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Mobile

Nextel to End Flarion Trial

Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL) is to pull the plug on its Flash-OFDM network trial with infrastructure startup Flarion Technologies at the end of June this year.

Launched twelve months ago in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina (approximately 1,300 square miles), the 130 base-station project has attracted over 3,000 subscribers (see Nextel Steps Up Data Race and Nextel Flashes With Flarion).

“We are concluding the trial in June,” Nextel’s senior director of corporate communications, Chris Grandis, tells Unstrung. “The next steps are to analyse all the data from the trial.”

Early customer feedback from the service was encouraging, and Nextel had initially been considering a nationwide deployment of Flash-OFDM as its next-generation technology of choice (see Nextel Studies Standards). A merger with CDMA 1xEV-DO carrier Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) announced last December, however, put an end to any potential plans (see Deal Solves Nextel 3G Dilemma).

Despite the imminent loss of its most high-profile deployment to date, Flarion is keen to hide any disappointment. “It validated the fact our system scales to a large network, delivers the performance and experience we were claiming, and proves that customers are very happy with this type of service,” says the vendor’s EMEA marketing director, Joe Barrett.

OFDM, which stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, is a modulation scheme that can support an average data rate of around 1 Mbit/s for users in a standard, PCS-sized cell site, while using only 1.25 MHz of spectrum. This makes it approximately four or five times more spectrally efficient than comparable 3G technologies, such as CDMA2000 or UMTS. Earlier this week Flarion announced further improvements to its offering, touted to deliver peak data rates of 5.3 Mbit/s downstream (see Flarion Goes Faster ).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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