Sprint (NYSE: FON/PCS) and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) have completed the fastest-ever third-generation (3G) over-the-air data call for a U.S. mobile wireless carrier, at speeds of up to 2.4 megabits per second (mbps). Within the next two years, these high-speed data rates promise to alter the way people traditionally use wireless services and will enable Sprint PCS customers to take advantage of 3G advanced mobile phone applications such as streaming video and audio.
The successful call was conducted on April 5, 2001, at Sprint's test site in Lenexa, Kan., using a new technology protocol called CDMA2000(r) 1xEV-DO (1x Evolution-Data Only). This 3G Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology makes it possible to transmit data up to 165 times faster than what now is available on wireless voice and data networks. With these speeds available on Sprint's network, consumers will be able to download music to their phones directly from the Internet or send pictures from remote locations such as the beach or the mountains. Business customers will be able to open complex e-mail attachments using wireless modems in their laptops without seeking a payphone or using expensive hotel connections.
Sprint, which is testing the 1xEV-DO technology through June, will test increased data throughput and capacity available with 1xEV-DO technology and also various applications such as web browsing, file transfer and streaming video and audio.
Lucent's commercial Flexent(r) CDMA base stations and QUALCOMM's 1xEV-DO test equipment is being used in the trial. Commercial availability of Lucent's CDMA2000 1xEV-DO base stations is expected in 2002. The technology is expected to be deployed into the Sprint PCS wireless network by 2003.
"Our successful data call using 1xEV-DO demonstrates that Sprint PCS is on time and on target in delivering on the first steps to bring high speed mobile Internet access to our customers, allowing them to experience new and richer applications," said Oliver Valente, chief technology officer for Sprint PCS.
"This milestone data call further demonstrates Sprint's industry-leading position in 3G. From a wireless spectrum perspective, Sprint is equipped with enough spectrum nationwide for the next 10 years and will introduce high-speed packet data (3G1x) nationwide in 2002. Using our existing infrastructure to upgrade the Sprint PCS network to 3G by simply changing out channel cards in our base stations will ensure a timely, smooth and cost effective migration. Plus, it gives us the ability to be first to market with many new sophisticated mobile services," Valente said.
The Lucent equipment that achieved the higher data transmission rates with 1xEV-DO promises to provide a cost-effective means to meet the demand for high-speed mobile Internet access. This is accomplished through an evolution to an all-Internet Protocol (IP) core network with Lucent's Flexent Mobility Server and a simple circuit card and software upgrade to existing Lucent base stations.
"Our solution will help mobile operators efficiently deliver high-speed mobile Internet services to their customers," said Mary Chan, vice president of development for Lucent's Wireless Networks Group. "We're committed to delivering this technology to meet the needs of our customers as they evolve to higher-speed 3G technologies."
Sprint's aggressive 3G deployment for CDMA2000, also known as 3G1x, will result in the eventual doubling of the voice capacity of the Sprint PCS network; up to a tenfold increase in data speeds from 14.4 kbps to speeds of up to 144 kbps; and increased battery life for handsets in standby mode by approximately 50 percent. By early 2003, Sprint will move to the second of its four-stage migration path with speeds of up to 307 kbps. Later in 2003, peak speeds will reach those replicated in the Sprint-Lucent data call -- up to 2.4 mbps -- with 3G1xEV-Data Only (DO). In 2004, speeds will reach 3 mbps to 5 mbps with 3G1xEV-Data and Voice (DV).
Based on High Data Rate technology initially pioneered by QUALCOMM, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO complements the existing CDMA2000 3G1x. Last year, Lucent Technologies and Sprint PCS conducted field trials of 3G1x demonstrating peak data transmission rates of 144 kbps. Sprint will deploy CDMA2000 3G1x technology later this year.