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Vodafone Trialing Flarion Wireless Broadband Equipment

U.K. wireless carrier Vodafone said Thursday it will conduct trials in Japan using Flarion Technologies' pre-standard 802.20 wireless broadband technology.

That same technology, called Flash-OFDM by Flarion, is also being trialed by Nextel in North Carolina. The new trial will be conducted by Vodafone KK, the company's Japanese business unit, and will start in the middle of the year, the wireless carrier said in a statement. The coverage area will include areas of metropolitan Tokyo.

Currently, Japan's NTT DoCoMo is the largest vendor of fast wireless access with its FOMA 3G service, which it primarily delivers to mobile handsets. By contrast, Vodafone said it would trial Flash-OFDM technology with PC cards that will deliver fast access to laptops and handhelds.

In a statement, Vodafone was vague about its long-term plans for the technology.

"Vodafone undertakes technical trials of emerging technologies to ensure we are well positioned to drive future research into mobile system solutions," Professor Michael Walker, Vodafone 's group research and development director, said in a statement. "Such programs also enable Vodafone to respond quickly to commercial opportunities with specific market requirements should the need arise."