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Nortel Revs Up CDMA

NEW ORLEANS -- CTIA Wireless 2005 -- Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) has today become the latest major infrastructure player to get behind a revision of the CDMA standard that promises wireless data transfer speeds up to a third faster than today's best performing cellular networks.

The infrastructure vendor says that it is planning initial CDMA Revision A trials in the U.S. with its 3G customer Verizon Wireless sometime in 2006 (see Nortel Touts EV-DO Rev A).

CDMA2000 1xEV-DO (Evolution-Data Only) is a radio network upgrade to existing CDMA EV-DO systems that are based on the earlier Release O standard (see 1xEV-DO Revision OK'd).

Current EV-DO networks can offer maximum data transfer speeds of around 2 Mbit/s and average data rates of 300 kbit/s to 500 kbit/s. Rev A is intended to crank this rate up to a theoretical 3.1 Mbit/s, although its hard to say yet what kind of speeds and feeds it will offer outside the lab.

Nonetheless, there’s big momentum behind Rev A at present, and it is expected to delay or maybe even kill off EV-DV (Evolution-Data Voice), which had been seen as the successor standard to EV-DO. Indeed, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) have recently announced their intention to focus chipset efforts on Rev A rather than EV-DV (see Q'comm Demos EV-DO Rev A). Carrier-wise, to date, KDDI Corp. has been one of the first to announce an intention to upgrade to Rev A, opting for kit from Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) and Samsung Corp. (see Hitachi Beats Samsung at KDDI). Another vendor to have showcased its offering is ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). (See ZTE Updates EV-DO Kit.)

— Dan Jones, EV-DU (Evolution-Damned Unlikely), and Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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