CDMA 450: No Fast Buck?

Network vendors searching for the next major revenue spinner are unlikely to strike deep gold in the CDMA 450 market, judging by the results of Unstrung’s August poll: CDMA 450.

Deployed in frequency bands previously hosting analog Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) cellular systems, CDMA 450 belongs to the CDMA2000 family of technologies, but operates in the 450MHz spectrum. Signals yield a broader cell radius at 450 MHz than on networks running over 850-, 1800/1900-, or 2100MHz systems, meaning up to 80 percent fewer base stations are required for a given deployment.

The emergence of commercial CDMA 450 networks has taken the industry by surprise in the last few months, but the majority of respondents (53 percent) argue the technology will only provide vendors with “incremental revenue” that “won’t replace any of their existing offerings.”

Furthermore, 57 percent of readers claim that CDMA 450 is most likely to become “a niche cellular standard with limited interest from certain regions.”

Such doomsayers claim that “regulatory issues surrounding the availability of 450MHz spectrum,” as well as the massive investment already poured into rival GSM-based technologies, are the stumbling blocks behind mass deployment (38 and 31 percent respectively).

Despite the challenges, a glut of vendors have added CDMA 450 products to their portfolios and have announced contract wins. (See Eurotel Picks Nortel, Ericsson Adds to CDMA Portfolio, Lucent Scores in Moscow and UTStarcom's CDMA Play.)

Early success has to date focused on Eastern Europe, a region that looks set to continue to drive market development (see CDMA 450 Seeps Into Europe and EV-DO Hits Europe). Over half of respondents (52 percent) believe the area will see the greatest levels of CDMA 450 rollout, with Asia Pacific and Africa/Middle East the remaining picks (14 percent each).

Looking ahead, our new September poll pokes its nose into the hullabaloo created by LM Ericsson's (Nasdaq: ERICY) decision to stop producing Bluetooth chips. Does this signal the end of the road for the once gleaming short-range standard, or are there enough players already in the market to ensure that the technology will thrive? Give your view here: Bluetooth Bites It?.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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