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T-Mobile Favors Flarion

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
12/29/2004

T-Mobile International AG plans to deploy services in the 450MHz band in its home German market, a move that could play into the hands of infrastructure startup Flarion Technologies.

Deployed in frequency bands previously hosting Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) cellular systems, 450MHz signals yield a broader cell radius than networks running over 850MHz, 1800/1900MHz, or 2100MHz systems, meaning up to 80 percent fewer base stations are required for a given deployment.

German regulator Regulierungsbehörde für Telekommunikation und Post (RegTP) has awarded T-Mobile a license to launch national services in the 450MHz frequency band. A statement notes the 450MHz network will be appropriate “largely for corporate mobile communications.”

T-Mobile is now mulling over two standards as its technology of choice for the network: industry-standard CDMA kit or Flarion’s Flash Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) equipment.

In October this year Flarion entered the 450MHz market following an OEM deal with German network incumbent Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See Flarion Flashes With Siemens.)

“We are looking at all the options,” T-Mobile spokesman Klaus Czerwinski tells Unstrung. “The idea is to provide business-related services in that frequency. We need to find out what services to offer, what technology to use, and if there are special requirements from the regulator as to how to use it.”

In light of its close ties with T-Mobile, Flarion appears a strong contender. Last year the startup received investment from the T-Mobile Venture Fund, the venture capital entity of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and in September announced a European trial with the carrier in The Hague (see T-Mobile Invests in Flarion and T-Mobile Flashes Flarion Trial).

“Rumor has it that despite wanting to use CDMA450, T-Mobile International may be forced by its parent, Deutsche Telekom, to use the... OFDM system by Siemens and Flarion,” laments CDMA advocate Joe Nordgaard of Spectral Advantage LLC in an email research note.

Flarion is playing down such talk, for the time being at least. “There isn’t much to say at the moment,” comments Joe Barrett, director of marketing, EMEA. “The situation in Germany will probably develop early next year.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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