Furthering development of the next generation of wireless networks, Nokia Corp. last week began volume shipments of GSM/EDGE hardware to carriers in the United States.
Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution is based on Global System for Mobile Communications, which is the reigning wireless network in Europe and is starting to gain ground in the United States. "EDGE is key to the creation of [third-generation] services in the global wireless industry," said Timothy Eckersley, senior vice president of Nokias Nokia Networks division, in Espoo, Finland.
AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and Cingular Wireless, both of which received the EDGE hardware, have started to roll out GSM networks in the United States. The next step in the transition is GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), which supports voice and data. Both companies are in the midst of GPRS trials. The third step is the EDGE network, which is designed to support high speed for functions that include streaming media and increased voice capacity.
By the end of the year, AT&T plans to have its entire network switched over to GSM and to begin to roll out EDGE services, but officials have been vague about when and how large the initial deployments will be. "EDGE will arrive," said Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, in Bedminster, N.J.
Cingular plans to launch EDGE services nationwide by 2004, according to company officials in Atlanta.
EDGE competes globally with Qualcomm Inc.s CDMA 2000 technology, which is used by Sprint PCS Group and Verizon Wireless Inc., both of which plan to start offering 3G services with speeds of up to 144K bps by summers end. Sprint Corp. CEO William Esrey said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week that Sprints high-speed network deployment will be nationwide by the end of summer.