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3G/HSPA

Flarion Flashes With Siemens

Alternative wireless broadband startup Flarion Technologies has boosted its hopes of a future European carrier win by scoring its first publicly announced OEM deal with German network incumbent Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See Siemens Integrates Flarion.)

The New Jersey-based company is to manufacture its Flash-OFDM kit for use by Siemens in the 450MHz band.

OFDM, which stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, is a modulation scheme that can support an average data rate of around 1.5 Mbit/s for users in a standard, PCS-sized cell site, while using only 1.25 MHz of spectrum.

“Siemens will have a product ready for delivery in the second quarter of 2005,” says Flarion’s EMEA marketing director, Joe Barrett.

Deployed in frequency bands previously hosting analogue 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.

Interest in the 450MHz band has rocketed in recent months, with a glut of Eastern European carriers launching CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) services in this spectrum (see CDMA 450 Seeps Into Europe and CDMA 450 Czechs In).

Flarion’s Barrett claims the partnership will give 450MHz carriers an alternative to CDMA technology. “There is a lot of interest from operators in Eastern Europe to deploy a mobile broadband solution and they now have a choice of which technology they can deploy.”

Both companies appear a perfect match, on paper at least. Flarion has announced a number of trials but its only commercial success to date remains a small deal with Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL) in North Carolina (see T-Mobile Flashes Flarion Trial, Flarion Wins Voodoo Trial, Nextel Flashes With Flarion, and Flarion Confirms Telstra Trial).

“Flarion definitely needed the backing of a big player to address operator concerns about dealing with a proprietary system,” says Gartner Inc.’s principal analyst for mobile communications, Jason Chapman. “The earlier Motorola deal was an agreement to work together on a single project but this will actually be part of Siemens's product offering.” (See Moto's Flarion Call? and Flarion, Moto Demo Public Safety Network.)

Siemens, meanwhile, has been unable to compete with the likes of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) in the 450MHz market (see Ericsson Adds to CDMA Portfolio, Eurotel Picks Nortel and Lucent Scores in Moscow).

“Siemens has been seeing some threat from the NMT migration to CDMA,” adds Chapman. “Siemens doesn’t have a CDMA product and a lot of Eastern European operators are opting for CDMA 450. There is a weakness there that they needed to fix. Now Siemens has something to go back to them with -- a 450 broadband offering.”

Siemens was unavailable for comment as this article was published.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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