Verizon Wireless To Launch National 3G Data Net

Verizon Wireless announced Thursday plans to expand its wireless high-speed data service across the country, with many large cities scheduled to be online this summer.

January 8, 2004

3 Min Read
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Verizon Wireless announced Thursday plans to expand its wireless high-speed data service across the country, with many large cities scheduled to be online this summer. The service has been in operation in San Diego and Washington, D. C., since October.

With average speeds of 300 to 500 kbps--and bursts much higher--the BroadbandAccess service could have wide impact, even, in some instances, becoming a disruptive technology that challenges DSL and cable modems. The service is being offered at $80 a month, plus a required $149 PC card.

The new Verizon Wireless network is based on Qualcomm's Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) 3G technology, which in turn is built on an earlier Qualcomm wireless-technology standard. In addition to the looming possibility of it competing with some broadband suppliers, BroadbandAcess will take on EDGE, another 3G high-speed wireless service. EDGE is currently offered by AT&T Wireless and has significantly slower speeds than does BroadbandAccess.

"This high-speed data network will be available to business and individual customers beginning in the summer of 2004 throughout significant portions of the Verizon Wireless national footprint, with additional markets phased in through 2005," the company said in a statement. "Because it is backward compatible, customers who travel outside a BroadbandAccess area with an EV-DO device will seamlessly switch to Verizon Wireless' existing NationalAccess network."

"This is a monumental event," said Joe Nordgaard, managing director of wireless consultancy Spectral Advantage LLC. "It sets the pace for corporate accounts. It's the fastest mobile service anywhere in the world. You'll be able to use it virtually anywhere in the U. S. You'll be able to use it anywhere you do business, including in your car. Over time, I expect it will give some broadband markets a run for their money." Nordgaard said the technology could even eventually be used as primary Web access in rural and outlying suburban areas that currently are hard to serve by existing broadband providers.Verizon Wireless said it will spend $1 billion on building out the wireless broadband net. Informed industry sources speculated that another 7,000 to 10,000 bases stations will likely be installed in coming months. Lucent Technologies Inc. deployed the network's hardware in Washington, while Nortel Networks is handling San Diego. Both companies may continue their respective relationships in the ongoing rollout of the network.

The Verizon rollout represents the largest deployment of Qualcomm's EV-DO 3G wide-area network. Smaller iterations of the wireless architecture are already in use in Korea and Japan. Moreover, the Verizon Wireless service sets the stage for a full-fledged 3G battle between EV-DO and W-CDMA, a competing service in use primarily in Europe, but also likely to eventually be rolled out by Verizon Wireless competitors in the U. S.

Verizon Wireless, which is jointly owned by Verizon and Vodafone, will offer supplementary features to the service, including its "Get It Now" applications for gaming, music, video, video messaging, and other multimedia applications. Yet the company is clearly targeting corporate enterprise markets with the new service. In a statement, it said: "Enterprise customers can access information when they are on the road--at customer locations, at job sites, in taxis, or on trains--faster than with any competing technology. With data transmissions bursts up to above 2 megabits per second, BroadbandAccess customers could download a one megabyte e-mail attachment, or receive three digital pictures, in less than 30 seconds."

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