Duo Rev Up CDMA

Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless have affirmed their commitment to deploy networks based on CDMA 1xEV-DO (Evolution, Data Only) Revision A technology, a future upgrade to today’s 3G offering.

To date, both carriers have focused on rolling out EV-DO Revision O networks, which support average data rates of 300 to 500 kbit/s (see Sprint Confirms EV-DO Network and Verizon Repeats on 3G).

Approved by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) Technical Specification Group, CDMA EV-DO Revision A is a radio network upgrade to existing EV-DO systems based on the earlier Revision O standard. Revision A is expected to crank peak burst rates up to 3.1 Mbit/s on the downlink and up to 1.8 Mbit/s on the uplink, using a 1.25MHz channel (see 1xEV-DO Revision OK'd).

These increased uplink speeds also reduce data latency, enabling the potential deployment of voice services over EV-DO’s IP channels.

Sprint and Verizon are keeping a tight lid on the specifics of future launches, but various details are beginning to leak out.

“Release A is part of our technology migration path,” confirms a spokesman for Sprint Nextel. “It’s too soon to know deployment details, as development is a 2006/2007 matter. The EV-DO user experience is our priority, and that influences developmental activities.”

Meanwhile, Verizon last week announced plans to launch an EV-DO Revision A trial with Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) “in early 2006” (see Lucent Revs Up Verizon). A Verizon spokesman declined to comment on potential locations for the trial, commenting only that “it’s all in the planning process right now.”

A spokesman at Lucent was slightly more effusive. “The trial will take place in several phases with key milestones to meet throughout the year.”

Earlier this year, equipment vendor Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) also talked up plans to launch a Revision A trial with Verizon sometime in 2006, and the carrier has previously expressed a commitment to launch mass-market mobile VOIP services in the next few years (see Nortel Revs Up CDMA and Verizon Talks Cellular VOIP).

The support of both Verizon and Sprint Nextel -- the second and third largest U.S. carriers, respectively -- strengthens momentum behind Revision A technology. The launch of such services is expected to delay or maybe even kill off EV-DV (Evolution-Data Voice), which had been seen as the successor standard to EV-DO (see EV-DV on Hold?). Indeed, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) have announced their intentions to focus chipset efforts on Revision A rather than EV-DV (see Qualcomm Samples Rev. A).

Japan’s KDDI Corp. is expected to be the first carrier to launch commercial Revision A networks, touting deployment by the end of 2006 (see Hitachi Beats Samsung at KDDI).

“For EV-DO operators, DORA [DO Revision A] is a 'when' not an 'if' proposition,” notes Current Analysis's Peter Jarich in a recent report. “With Qualcomm sampling chipsets, vendors announcing demonstrations and operators announcing trials, it’s clear that commercial momentum is growing -- moving from networks to devices and applications will be the next step.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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