EV-DV on Hold?
The U.S. carrier announced on Tuesday it is to launch a $1 billion EV-DO network as an upgrade to its CDMA 1xRTT service. The EV-DO network is intended to crank up data rates to a potential 2 Mbit/s, although 300 to 500 kbit/s is a more realistic rate outside the lab (see Sprint Confirms EV-DO Network).
The move follows a decision by rival Verizon Wireless earlier this year to launch a nationwide EV-DO network (see Verizon Repeats on 3G).
Sprint’s decision caught many industry watchers by surprise, as it had earlier hinted at plans to leapfrog the technology and move directly to EV-DV technology, which also supports voice communications.
With the country’s two largest CDMA carriers now committed to EV-DO, analysts are agreed that a previously touted 2005-2006 timescale for commercial EV-DV deployment appears unrealistic.
“Sprint’s move to deploy CDMA2000 EV-DO is a blow to EV-DV and may delay its commercialization,” notes Richard Windsor of Nomura Holdings Inc. “Only EV-DO looks viable in the medium term... The development of EV-DV may now be slower than anticipated, as the immediate urgency for it in the networks looks to have diminished.”
“This latest move certainly delays some of the drivers behind the migration to DV,” concurs Gartner Inc.’s principal analyst Jason Chapman.
Meanwhile Ken Rehbehn of Current Analysis states that recent demand for high-speed services may provide the biggest threat to long-term EV-DV success (see Cingular EDGEs Out Rivals).
"Unless EV-DV can really deliver substantial value to the operators with its ability to support circuit voice and data, EV-DO may be good enough to dull the appetite for costly upgrades. And if the end game is voice-over-IP all the way to the handset, EV-DO may be all that is needed."
To date, both LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) and Samsung Corp. have demoed EV-DV kit, while Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) was lined up as Sprint’s network supplier for its initial EV-DV plans (see Samsung, UTStar Demo EV-DV, Ericsson Demos 1xEV-DV, and Lucent Guides Sprint's EV-DV).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung