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Orange 3G W-CDMA Network, United Kingdom

Key Data

Orange UK is launching its commercial 3G services in the second half of 2004. The company has teamed up with Alcatel, Nokia and Nortel Networks to bring potential 'mobile broadband' speeds up to 2Mbit/s. The companies hope this will give a step change in 'user experience' when using mobile phones, laptops and other devices for Internet access.

Orange is readying sites, handsets, software and interoperability agreements for the launch. The company has over the last year piloted the 3G network with the Orange Developers Forum, and trials are underway with Orange business customers, along with more extensive public trials.

A number of handsets are in development, and the first 3G product is expected to be a high-speed data card for mobile high-speed business access to corporate data (business users are expected to be early 3G adopters).


Orange is working with hundreds of industry partners on 3G. In September 2003, the company announced preliminary framework agreements with Alcatel, Nokia and Nortel Networks. The companies will work on 3G radio access network (RAN) using the Orange footprint to provide a robust, interoperable UMTS network infrastructure.

In August 2001, Nokia and Orange UK signed contracts worth €800 million over three years for supplying 3G UMTS and GSM network expansion and 3G infrastructure. Nokia is providing telecom-related services, including project management, training, installation, commissioning and technical support for both GSM and 3G networks.

Orange demonstrated the services on two Nokia handsets at ITU Telecom World 2003 in Geneva on a 384kbit/s Nokia W-CDMA network. Nokia's 6650 ran business applications such as live images from web and security cameras. The 7600 ran consumer wire-free interactive multiplayer games, and downloaded/streamed video and music.

Nortel Networks and Orange launched a pre-commercial UMTS network and demonstrated Orange's 3G service offerings at the 2004 Cannes International Film Festival. Nortel Networks supplies Orange's UMTS radio equipment for Cóte d'Azur region and southern France.

Orange has chosen the QVoice network monitoring and evaluation system from Ascom of Switzerland. QVoice offers a common platform for voice, CSD, GPRS, SMS, 3G and WAP testing. The system tests all the bearers and services needed by Orange.


Nine Orange 3G Developer Centres will open across the world (in the UK, France, Thailand, the Netherlands, China, Japan and three in the USA) in 2004. The Centres will provide third party developers with the resources to a range of Orange devices, and connect to the 3G network in a dedicated laboratory to develop customer applications.

Developers and business managers will be able to upload and test their service with Orange handsets, and use 3G interactive demonstrations. There is also a web-based "Virtual Developer Centre".


Orange UK, which started up in April 1994, now has over 12 million customers in the UK, more than 30 million worldwide and operating interests in 20 countries.

Alcatel provides communications solutions for delivery of voice, data and video applications. With sales of €12.5 billion in 2003, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries.

In the late 1980s, Nokia became the largest Scandinavian information technology company through the acquisition of Ericsson's data systems division. Since the beginning of the 1990s, Nokia has concentrated on its core business, telecommunications.


First-generation (1G) technology provided analogue voice services only using the AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service) system.

2G brought digital voice services and 9.6kbit/s to 14.4kbit/s data using CDMA and TDMA (Code and Time Division Multiple Access), GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and PDC (Personal Digital Cellular).

3G services bring better voice quality, enhanced roaming features and up to 2Mbit/s data across an always-on data link using Wideband CDMA (W-CDMA, mainly Europe), CDMA-2000 (US) or TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous CDMA, Far East).

3G uses shorter wavelengths than 2G (2,160MHz to 2,170MHz rather than the 1,847MHz to 1,877MHz used by GSM) and lower power levels. This means 3G systems will work over shorter ranges (so about 25% more masts will be needed than for GSM).


The European W-CDMA system is the most popular radio interface for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) pair-band operation. W-CDMA has evolved from GSM, and most European operators upgraded their systems to GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Switched Data). W-CDMA is a 'Direct Sequence' CDMA, linking digital subscriber information with a spreading code (the unit of spreading code sequence is a 'chip').

W-CDMA separates the UMTS core network into circuit (GSM) and packet-switched (GPRS) domains. Reusing these 2G/2.5G core networks makes W-CDMA much easier to upgrade than CDMA2000. It is now gaining ground in the US and Japan. The eventual aim is worldwide 3G integration, and companies (Ericsson, for example) are already aligning their product offerings for W-CDMA and CDMA2000 using the same software and hardware platforms.


Orange claims the most advanced integrated 2.5/3G network in the UK, with over 40% coverage of the UK population. This has initially concentrated on the main business intensive locations including ten major cities along with trunk roads, rail routes and business parks. In France, Orange and France Telecom have developed 'Villes Orange 3G', and correspondingly plan access for ten major French cities at launch.

Customer trials have covered customer services, sales and distribution, devices, services and content as well as pricing and tariffs. For an additional monthly charge, customers can access services like video calling and unlimited access to multi-media content.

Nortel Networks supplies its service provider and enterprise customers with communications technology and infrastructure. Nortel Networks does business in more than 150 countries.

Ascom is based in Solothurn, Switzerland and plans, builds, services and operates secure, high-availability voice and data networks and develops solutions for integrated revenue collection systems.