Nextel Trials Flarion's Flash
Ray Dolan, president and CEO of Flarion Technologies Inc., speaking at the Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. technology conference in New York, says that Nextel is running a trial on six base stations using his company's Flash-OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology.
OFDM is a digital modulation technique that splits the signal into several different strands at different frequencies. Flarion has implemented its own version of OFDM in its RadioRouter base station, which overlays existing cell sites and spectrum and provides a routing interface to existing IP networks.
Flarion says its technology can support an average data rate of around 1.5 Mbit/s for users in a standard, PCS-size cell site, while using only 1.25 MHz of spectrum. This makes it approximately four or five times more spectrally efficient than comparable 3G technologies, such as CDMA2000 or UMTS, and cheaper to implement.
Investigating alternative technology for offering data services may well be a more pressing need for Nextel than for rivals such as Verizon Wireless or AT&T Wireless. The operator has stuck with its proprietary iDEN network technology, and it is currently saddled with enough debt to make the idea of rolling out a whole new nationwide network very painful. Yet Nextel is strongly favored by business users in the U.S., so it potentially has a lot to gain from offering premium data services.
Using Flash-OFDM could be a way for Nextel to offer data without paying the upgrade costs of 3G. The smart money in the market says the operator will eventually move to CDMA2000, but Flash-OFDM could help it to delay any such rollout, while keeping costs down.
For Flarion's Dolan, it's simply a question of choosing a technology that is cheaper than the upgrade paths most carriers are currently on. Carriers are being forced to look at alternatives because the costs associated with rolling out 3G networks are horrific. "Freak capital markets have masked the train wreck that is happening with 3G," he says.
— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung