Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) says it has delivered "EDGE-capable" infrastructure to 25 operators in 14 countries worldwide, including nine territories in Europe.
Those countries are: the already well-documented U.S. and Brazil in the Americas; India and Thailand in Asia/Pacific; Israel in the Middle East; and Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. in Europe.
Talking at a London briefing Tuesday, Kai Konola, marketing and sales director of the vendor's IP Mobility Networks division, told Unstrung that the first commercial software deliveries would be made to operators in the U.S. (operating at 800 MHz and 1900 MHz) at the beginning of 2003, and that the network software for networks operating at 900 MHz and 1800 MHz, the "European" frequencies, would be "available later in the first half of the year."
He declined to name any of the European operators who had ordered the "EDGE-capable" kit during the second half of 2002, though he noted that in the U.K., O2 Ltd. (NYSE: OOM) and Orange UK (London: OGE) are existing "major customers" of Nokia's GSM network infrastructure.
EDGE (which stands for Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution or Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) offers higher data rates, theoretically up to 384 Kbit/s, on existing spectrum than the now widely deployed GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) while using the same basic network infrastructure. "EDGE offers a noticeable difference in terms of data speeds," says Konola.
The Nokia man was unable to offer any details on handset availability, other than to reiterate its promises of EDGE handsets for the U.S. market in the first half of 2003 and for Europe in the second half of the year (see Nokia Launches EDGE Device and Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003).
Many things remain unclear about EDGE in Europe. For example: When, where specifically, and for the support of which particular services might the operators deploy the enhancements? Or have they ordered EDGE-capable infrastructure simply to give themselves the option of upgrading as, when, or even if required?
Nokia, of course, is not alone in the EDGE market. LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) is also ready to deliver to its GSM customers as and when required, while Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) has also stated its intention to meet carrier needs.
For handsets, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) will play a role, as it is also developing an EDGE handset. A test call was recently made between a Nokia 6200 handset hooked up to Telecom Italia Mobile SpA's (Milan: TIM) mobile network in Brazil and a Motorola EDGE handset linked to the AT&T Wireless Services Inc. (NYSE: AWE) network.
— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung