Nextel Keeps Flarion Waiting
Earlier this month, the U.S. carrier ramped up its North Carolina trial with the startup, announcing plans to charge users for the service in an effort to provide a real market test for the technology (see Nextel Steps Up Data Race and Nextel Flashes With Flarion).
During its first-quarter results announcement today, however, Nextel chief operating officer Tom Kelly stressed that no decision is imminent on its future plans for large-scale wireless broadband rollout (see Nextel Boosts Revenue).
"The early results of our trial are promising, but there is much work to be done to enhance and understand its performance, customer demands, and the spectrum bands in which it can be utilized."
Kelly also left the door wide open for other "alternative wireless broadband" vendors to stake their claim. "Nextel continues to evaluate other broadband technologies, particularly as they apply to the 2.5GHz band. I want to be perfectly clear when I say that no broadband decisions have been made to build out the next-generation network at this time."
Despite Kelly's comments, some financial analyst reports claim it is only a matter of time before Nextel commits to a nationwide rollout of Flash-OFDM. "We are assuming that Nextel will move forward with a 3G/Flarion buildout, and that the company will spend $2 billion to $3 billion in capex/opex over a three-year period," note analysts at Thomas Weisel Partners.
"Such a move would put the company in very good position to compete with Verizon Wireless' 1x EV-DO network and be ahead of the game potentially versus PCS and T-Mobile, as well as the combined/distracted AT&T Wireless/Cingular" (see Verizon Repeats on 3G and Cingular Buys AT&T Wireless).
Signals Research Group concurs: "SRG believes Nextel will deploy Flash-OFDM nationwide, assuming it receives its 1900 MHz, in order to counter VZW's rollout," writes the company's Michael W. Thelander (see Verizon Calls for Auction).
OFDM is a modulation scheme that can support an average data rate of around 1.5 Mbit/s for users in a standard, PCS-sized cell site, using only 1.25 MHz of spectrum. It is approximately four times more spectrally efficient than comparable 3G technologies.
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung