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1,900MHz UMTS Trials, Dallas, TX, United States of America

In February 2002, the first live 1900MHz UMTS voice call in the USA was made, which managed to transfer multimedia files at packet data speeds exceeding 300Kpbs. The trials in Dallas, USA will be deployed in the fourth quarter of 2002, and will continue until EDGE, then UMTS is officially launched in the USA in 2004. The leading players in the development of the UMTS (or W-CDMA) rollout are Ericsson and AT&T Wireless, Inc. The telephone call proved AT&T Wireless is able to move to full UMTS on schedule.

In June 2002, Ericsson displayed the first cross-technology multimedia messaging service (MMS) over CDMA2000 and GPRS, which enables consumers to send and receive multimedia messages containing images, text and sound.


The current GSM/GPRS is ready to deploy EDGE technology, followed by UMTS wideband radio that works at 2Mbit/second. UMTS allows the simultaneous use of bandwidths and various multimedia services, from sending emails to mailing video clips from your handset.

A complete UMTS rollout is thought to be the most effective and efficient solution for 3G, and is the preferred technology for most operators and manufacturers in the creation of a mass market for highly personalised and user-friendly mobile access. UMTS combines CDMA with TDMA for multimedia data and voice services. More than 60 operators internationally hold licenses for UMTS.

AT&T Wireless operates the largest wireless network in the USA. In the first quarter of 2002, AT&T Wireless added 650,000 GSM/GPRS customers. Although the majority of business remains voice-based, the 18 million subscribers are expected to begin using the multi-modal services as they come available. For example, emailing a diagram while mid-call to illustrate a statistic to a business partner, without having to close the conversation.

The call in February 2002 went over Ericsson’s volume production system, and used UMTS wireless networking equipment with radio access and core infrastructure. The new generation of wireless services is a unified network sharing applications for high-level communications. The combination of GSM, EDGE and W-CDMA technologies provide a seamless integrated service, so AT&T Wireless customers will not be aware of these various technologies that come into play. Most of the customers that will take part in the new systems are currently AT&T Wireless’ 2G subscribers whose handsets have the capability to evolve to 3G. Operators are keeping their established customer base and attempting to expand it by offering further mobile internet services.


3G radio access is developed from GSM by introducing either W-CDMA for the wideband spectrum, or EDGE for the GSM spectrum. W-CDMA provides higher capacity and higher data rates for an enhanced voice and data mobile internet service. EDGE offers similar services at lower data rates, it is more cost-effective and offers the operator the opportunity to have three times more subscribers. In most markets globally, these two are seen as complementary for maximum 3G services, capacity and coverage.

AT&T Wireless are using multi-modal handsets to ensure that the best available service is used for availability and demand.


GSM and EDGE are in the process of being further integrated to enhance alignment with W-CDMA. The new GSM/EDGE radio access network (GERAN) will have a similar quality and reach as W-CDMA. The overlap between EDGE and W-CDMA technologies includes the mobile packet backbone network (Mobile-PBN), transmission, handsets, service network, operation support, network management and the customer administration system. Approximately 85% of the global market is expected to employ a combination of UMTS and EDGE in their 3G solutions.

EDGE is a radio enhancement interface, which compliments GPRS data bearing technology.


The US Department of Defense has traditionally been very proprietorial with the frequencies that would be used for the W-CDMA spectrum, however there are a number of court decisions pending an ownership of the spectrum and it is expected that the DoD will free up a large amount of bandwidth by 2004. In order to afford sufficient spectrum space, AT&T Wireless have signed an agreement with Cingular to share the $100 million construction and management costs for an EDGE data network. The network is expected to go live by 2004.


Handset sales are expected to increase by 15% per annum to 2003, and GSM handset sales alone are expected to grow 174% in 2002 as AT&T Wireless and Cingular move customers gradually onto their new GSM/GPRS handsets. These new handsets will have all the applications of current phones, plus a few added extras, but will be compatible with the networks as they are introduced in the Dallas trial.

Ericsson’s EDGE portfolio provides end-to-end solutions, including systems, applications, services and terminal products from Sony Ericsson. The Mobile-PBN has multi-layered security, with advanced firewalls and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and most importantly, supports both W-CDMA and EDGE networks. The mobile-PBN is built on a scalable architecture for the easy addition of new network applications, which reduces time-to-market for new services.