Lucent Guides Sprint's EV-DV

The $1 billion network upgrade deal awarded by Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS) to Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) today is one of the first indicators of the operator's plans to move to a CDMA2000 EV-DV (evolution, data voice!) 3G network over the next few years.

EV-DV is a third-generation upgrade to Sprint's existing network that should enable it to deliver applications like video messaging and data transfer speeds in the same ballpark as those offered by wireless LAN networks (around 1 Mbit/s).

The $1 billion contract is the largest that Lucent has announced for a while. Most of its recent wins have been valued in the tens or low hundreds of million of dolllars (see Lucent Wins O2 3G Deal, MetroPCS Extends Lucent Deal, and Lucent's 3G Bit Part). Lucent has been working with Sprint since 1996.

A spokesperson for Lucent says that under the terms of the deal the vendor will initially upgrade Sprint's PCS Vision CDMA 1xRTT network with additional base stations and software. The spokesperson adds that "over the next few years" the vendor will also start to roll out EV-DV equipment for Sprint.

EV-DV is based on Qualcomm Inc.'s (Nasdaq: QCOM) high-data-rate technology for CDMA networks, which enables data rates of up to 2 Mbit/s (in theory at least) and -- as the name suggests -- supports voice communications. There is also a data-only (DO) variant, which uses an operator's existing CDMA network to support voice communications.

Sprint has previously said that it planned to move directly to EV-DV networks, leapfrogging EV-DO upgrades, unlike its major CDMA rival operator in the U.S., Verizon Wireless, which has committed to moving to EV-DO (see Verizon's Surprise Evolution).

Upgrading from a CDMA 1xRTT network to an EV-DV networks requires a card swap and software upgrade at the base station. However, the Lucent spokesperson said that EV-DV network upgrades are not yet available from Lucent, although they will be "in the next few years." — Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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