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Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) claims it will deliver EDGE-capable mobile devices to European GSM operators in the second half of 2003.

Rene Svendsen-Tune (no, he didn't sing us a song!), senior VP for marketing and sales at Nokia's IP Mobility Networks division, told Unstrung at Nokia's Mobile Internet Conference in Munich that "EDGE terminals for European frequencies [900 MHz and 1,800 MHz] will be available in the second half of 2003," though he would not elaborate on volumes.

He also declined to name any of the operators that have allegedly taken delivery of EDGE (enhanced data for GSM evolution) equipment, but noted that operators that do not have a UMTS license are likely to be a key target market.

"EDGE is an obvious next step for those operators that do not have a 3G license. We are convinced that those GSM operators that do not have 3G spectrum will go down that route. We also believe that most GSM operators will leverage their [2G] spectrum to deploy EDGE at some stage, but there is not a strong momentum in Europe just now."

EDGE is an enhancement to the GSM and TDMA wireless communications systems that increases data throughput up to 384 kbit/s. EDGE uses the same basic network structure as existing 2G technologies. Nokia has already made some loose announcements about its EDGE position and plans (see Nokia Gets EDGEy). For those operators without a 3G license, EDGE would at least offer an opportunity for higher data rates than will be possible with GPRS, while, in many cases, not having to replace base stations. Both Nokia and LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICD) have built upgrade opportunities into their GSM network equipment for years, and they market EDGE technology as a simple and cheap upgrade. In addition, as part of the GSM evolution cycle (GSM-GPRS-EDGE-Wideband-CDMA), it would allow these 3G-less carriers: applications continuity; enhancements enabled by increased data rates; and the possibility of device support from existing GSM vendors.

Executives at Ericsson, Nokia's main GSM infrastructure rival, agree that EDGE will be deployed first by the 3G-less operators, and ultimately by most GSM carriers. "Why wouldn't an operator want to triple the IP capacity offered by GPRS?" said Mikael Halén, the Swedish vendor's director of W-CDMA marketing during a recent telephone interview with Unstrung. "GSM operators want to preserve the investment they have already made in their networks."

Which all sounds rather promising for the takeup of EDGE, seeing as how no additional (expensive) licenses or spectrum are required. Nokia's Svendsen-Tune is wise to this and, without prompting, proclaims W-CDMA as the ultimate capability for GSM operators and startup greenfield carriers alike. Wideband-CDMA increases data rates in GSM systems by using the CDMA air interface instead of TDMA; it is part of the universal mobile telecommunications specification (UMTS).

"W-CDMA still allows the most cost-effective solution and the best use of available capacity," he proclaims, knowing of course that the 3G license conditions require network infrastructure above and beyond the capabilities of EDGE. Knowing that they need to pump their cash and effort into UMTS/W-CDMA to meet their regulatory requirements, European operators with 3G licenses have no plans at present to deploy EDGE, according to IDC senior research analyst Paolo Pescatore.

While Europe looks at present to be less of an opportunity, the market is already developing in North America, while Asia is showing signs of interest, says Svendsen-Tune. "There is clear progression in the U.S. where WCDMA frequencies [2.5 GHz] are not available yet. AT&T Wireless Services Inc. [NYSE: AWE], Cingular Wireless, and T-Mobile USA have all announced plans and begun work on their networks. EDGE terminals for North America's GSM frequencies [850 MHz and 1,900 MHz] will be available in the first half of 2003," he says, which indicates a slight slip in timescales for handset delivery, as Nokia executives said during the company's recent financial statements that they would be available before the end of 2002.

Asia is less developed, but some operators should deploy EDGE in 2003, says the Nokia man, but that this would be outside the territories already well developed in high-capacity network systems (i.e., Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan).

On more general matters, Svendsen-Tune says Nokia is delivering WLAN equipment and systems to mobile operators for WLAN/WAN integration on all continents -- though you can count the number of customers at present on the fingers of "several hands" -- and that this is its own manufactured equipment based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE)'s 802.11 standards. Its channel via systems partner IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is very important here, he says.

In the W-CDMA network equipment market, "Nokia has said we will take 35 percent of the market, and we are already very close to that." How close? "More than 30 percent, measured in actual sales booked."

He also claims that Nokia has a "very strong market position in GSM networks in China," but declines to say what that equates to in market share, simply stating that Nokia has a global share of the GSM equipment market "in the high 20s percent."

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
www.unstrung.com
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spc_King 12/4/2012 | 9:19:08 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 The final nit-pick on EDGE:

I agree with both 'standardsarefun' and 'wirelessundertaker's comments and will add: you can even add AMR to both regular GSM (GMSK modulation) as well as an EDGE variant AMR solution (using 8-PSK for voice as well as data (CSD/GPRS)).
I've seen test results indicating 50% datarate increases using EGPRS coding schemes over and beyond CS-2 GPRS for the same cell radius that AMR 12.2 would be used (that is probably as big or even bigger cell radius than in current cells for networks using FR/EFR codecs).
At 80% of the AMR 12.2 radius you get x2 data rates using EGPRS and at 20% of AMR12.2 cell radius you get the full x3 datarate increase.

AMR using 8-PSK is GERAN 3GPP release 5 stuff and some time away, though. However. AMR using GMSK has been standardized since ETSI'98.

I don't think 'berzerk' has any more valid excuses why operators shouldn't use EDGE, especially considering the recent press-release on Nokia EDGE handsets - Eat your hart out, Berzerk! :-)

/X-Eri
WirelessUndertaker 12/4/2012 | 9:19:21 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 > 1) EDGE is not something separate from GPRS it is simply a new set of channel codes (and a new modulation). A phone that "does" EDGE must also "do" GPRS

Actually this is not true. EDGE can run on both circuit switched (called E-CSD) and packet switched (called E-GPRS). In other words, the EDGE modulation and coding schemes can be applied to both circuit switched and packet switched GSM networks. In the circuit switched mode, you'll need high speed circuit switch data (HPCSD) to support EDGE rates.
standardsarefun 12/4/2012 | 9:19:31 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 Some of the previous posts seem to have missed a few points:

1) EDGE is not something separate from GPRS it is simply a new set of channel codes (and a new modulation). A phone that "does" EDGE must also "do" GPRS and the vendor would have to be stupid to not also "do" GSM voice. Same thing applies to base stations and so you will not need a have "EDGE carriers" and "GSM/GPRS carriers" but would tend to have "old carriers" (GSM/GPRS only) and "new carriers" (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) and so the traffic engineering is not as hard

2) Cell edges would tend to use the "old" channel codes (long live CS1) with the middles of "EDGEd" cells using the "new" (EDGE) channel codes. This means that your cell engineering remains the same (no new cell sites to deploy EDGE except for normal cell splitting as the traffic builds up).

3) BUT the average (over time and over all users) bitrate will not be enormously bigger (my earlier posting suggested x2 only).

4) You could do better if you deployed EDGE only carriers (no voice or normal GPRS terminals would be assigned to them) but then you would either need smaller cells or a wider reuse pattern and I don't see an operator having the spectrum unless them deployed this in rural areas using their 3G licences
BT76 12/4/2012 | 9:21:14 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 current Euro operator thinking is the following:

* I already have GPRS rolled out
* I HAVE to deploy UMTS (at least in the cities) to keep the license
* When higher speed data becomes a requirement, EDGE will be added outside the cities to complement UMTS

First-gen UMTS handsets will be UMTS only. The thought is to add EDGE to the UMTS terminal per the assumption above.

No current commercial talk of EDGE anywhere outside the US (and only there from what I've explained earlier).
spc_King 12/4/2012 | 9:21:28 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 Berzerk wrote: "user would require 2 terminals)"

Not that I have seen an EDGE phone yet, but I doubt that you would need one phone for voice and one for EDGE data - I'm sure that would be combined!?

Someone with access to both WCDMA and EDGE basestation and handset cost estimates would need to set up a detailed model to assess which scenario is most cost effective, but my gut feeling is an EDGE mix would be a lot cheaper!

/X-Eri
BT76 12/4/2012 | 9:21:51 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 X-Eri, you're right about MOST of this. And sorry, no disrespect intended.

CS3 and CS4 would screw up the RF coverage/footprint drastically (currently CS3 and CS4 and not implemented in any hardware). Add that to the already decreased footprint (with respect to current GSM/GPRS) from a higher modulation scheme and there would be too many coverage holes to actually offer/advertise the service. Carriers will not (financially) be able to add the required sites to fill these holes and you can't sell new EDGE phones if there's not a ubiquitous EDGE service offering.

However, you're right with respect to EDGE complimenting UMTS long term: UMTS will be in the urban centers and EDGE may come along later in the rural areas. My point is that the migration path is NOT GPRS->EDGE->UMTS but GPRS->UMTS (because they have to to keep the licenses)->EDGE outside major cities (when high bandwidth service ubiquity is warranted--when there's $$$ to be made).

At this stage, 3G will be built because operators have ALREADY paid a boat load for the licenses/spectrum and the investors/shareholders (and the governments) won't allow them to stop halfway. Just think about it: there's still no business model for high speed wireless data but all they systems are being built anyway (and in this economy too).

In the US, CDMA EV-DO is now a finalized standard but no major carrier will deploy this commercially for at least another 2 years. Why? There's still no biz model for high speed (or even low) speed wireless data yet.

Finally, as operators HAVE to build UMTS and now have GPRS, there is no current reason to build anything EDGE (an in-between technology that originally was for GSM carriers who weren't going to get UMTS spectrum). Remember, EDGE is currently data-only (UMTS does both) so operators would have to supplement (first/currently) a GPRS phone, then an EDGE one (and just for data so the user would require 2 terminals) and finally a UMTS phone. Again, what do I as the user need these phones for? This just doesn't make sense and everyone will realize this as time goes by. However, there is talk (long term, not short) of a UMTS/EDGE combined phone for the scenario above.
spc_King 12/4/2012 | 9:22:13 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 More than just one Boo-Boo imho :-)

Yes, I probably do think like a vendor...

However, the reason I see an opportunity for EDGE even in Europe is that I think WCDMA licencees can create a cheaper 3G system if they combine WCDMA (in hotspots) with EDGE (in more rural areas).

Seen in the light of having to build out 90-100% coverage in a country using WCDMA, I would think EDGE and CS3-4 basestations would seem a really good deal comparatively, especially since (as you point out) there is no demand for the fatter WCDMA pipe.

If operators get scared by the cost of EDGE or basestation upgrades then what the hell are they doing investing in 3G (be it CDMA2000 or WCDMA)??

EDGE can save GSM/WCDMA operators' bacon. Please show som more respect :-)

/X-Eri
BT76 12/4/2012 | 9:22:16 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 one 'boo boo' in the next to last paragraph of my previous post---

Sites DON'T go further with higher modulation...they go a shorter distance (which means you need MORE sites for equivalent coverage).
BT76 12/4/2012 | 9:22:16 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 Hey Ray...here you go:

10% anytime soon (next 5 years). Who can say after that but we're already seeing comoditization in data in the U.S. Ultimately (and wireless carriers don't want to believe this), they will give 'all you can eat' data and be a pipe. There's no other way these HUGE UMTS pipes will EVER be filled. They will ultimately be another DSL provider with a wireless and speed premium over fixed DSL. Again, no other way to fill these HUGE pipes.

Its already clear in Europe that EDGE will come AFTER UMTS as UMTS will not be ubiquitious (too expensive to put it EVERYWHERE as its above 2 GHz and therefore A LOT of BTSs would be required). Handset manufactures don't have the money to support too many standards...it looks like GPRS/UMTS/1X-CDMA will be it.

If it wasn't for AT&T and Cingular (here in the US) needing a comeback to Wall Street for the fact that they have no high speed 1x->EV-DO->EV-DV roadmap, EDGE would not even be around. Remember, with EDGE you have higher modulation, that means sites go further (no free lunch in RF). That means more sites. And unlike GSM, EDGE does NOT carry voice traffic. The GSM system is going to have to be MIGHTY loaded before a separate channel is allocated in the ENTIRE network for data only. How about just 1 EDGE TRX @ US$10,000/trx X 3 sectors/site X 1000 sites in a metro area = US$30 million (per big area) + backhaul + handset subsidies.

At what point does data warrant this (and, by the way, this is JUST 1 trx=8 time slots per sector)?
spc_rayella 12/4/2012 | 9:22:17 PM
re: Nokia Promises EDGEy 2003 Thanks for the post. I want to question a few of your assumptions.

Data will NEVER be more than 10% of voice ARPU? Is there a rational explanation for this? Do you mean globally EVER, or anywhere soon?

And regards 'No need to move from GPRS to EDGE and THEN to UMTS.' What about the carriers that do not have a UMTS license but have an existing GSM network that can be upgraded to EDGE?

I am not saying it isn't too much more than avendor wish,as the potential market might actually be too small for any meaningful econoimies of scale, but I am not sure it's as cut and dried as that.

Unstrung Ray
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