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Verizon Has $692M for EV-DO

ATLANTA -- CTIA Show -- Verizon Wireless announced this morning that it will spend around $692 million on the ongoing high-speed data upgrade to its CDMA network.

Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the U.S., is sticking with Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) for the upgrade. The carrier has already been using kit from the equipment suppliers for trials and initial deployments of the high evolution, data only (EV-DO) technology (see Verizon Repeats on 3G).

However, Lucent has won significantly more of the EV-DO pie with a three-year deal -- Verizon announcing it will spend $525 million in the first two years for network cards, base stations, and software. Meanwhile, Nortel's contract runs "through 2005" and is worth $167 million. Verizon has said it plans to spend around $1 billion in total on the network upgrade.

The EV-DO upgrade to the carrier's CDMA 1xRTT system largely involves software upgrades delivered via new cards for current base stations and some new code at the core. EV-DO can crank data transfer speeds up to 2 Mbit/s (with a good strong wind behind it) but generally delivers 300 to 500 kbit/s, which is still 10 times the rate offered by 1xRTT.

The move represents another escalation in the speed race among U.S. carriers. M&A favorite AT&T Wireless Services Inc. (NYSE: AWE) recently announced a similar (but slightly slower) EDGE upgrade to its network. And gossip at this week's show has it that Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL) may announce similar high-speed moves with Flarion Technologies (see Nextel Flashes With Flarion). — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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