Verizon, AT&T to Broaden 3G Services

EvDO-based PDAs and CDMA EvDO service in 30 percent of Verizon Wireless markets will be available by year-end, officials say; AT&T Wireless plans to support UMTS wideband CDMA service in four markets by that time.

ATLANTA—Verizon Wireless Inc. and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. on Monday each announced plans to broaden their 3G network footprints.

At the CTIA Wireless 2004 trade show here, Verizon Wireless officials said the company will have CDMA EvDO service in 30 percent of its markets by the end of the year.

To that end, the Bedminster, N.J., company announced two-year EvDO (Evolution Data Only) infrastructure deals with Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks totaling $700 million.

Company officials declined to reveal which markets would comprise the 30 percent, citing competitive advantage reasons. At this point, only San Diego and Washington, D.C., have Verizons EvDO access.

"Ill tell you that I live in the Philadelphia market, and I wont be the last to get it," said Dick Lynch, chief technology officer of Verizon Wireless.

Lynch said the company plans to offer PDAs based on EvDO by the end of the year. Currently, the company offers only laptop modems for the high-speed networks.

Verizon has a new partnership with Korean carrier SK Telecom, which sells EvDO handsets from several carriers. Lynch said his company likely will sell the same handsets as SK does but would have to add FCC-mandated features such as location-based technology to its devices.

He added that the company has no immediate plans to support voice on EvDO, which promises speeds of 300 to 500 kilobits per second.

Meanwhile, AT&T Wireless is moving forward with its own third-generation plans in spite of the fact that Cingular Wireless announced plans to acquire the company earlier this year.

"Until everything is approved and signed, were still a competitor," said Ritch Blasi, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless in Redmond, Wash.

AT&T Wireless plans to support UMTS wideband CDMA service in four markets by the end of the year—San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and Dallas, officials said Monday. The announcement coincides with Motorola Inc.s launch of the A845, its first UMTS phone for the North American market.

The UMTS plans are fueled largely by a longstanding deal with Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. It is not clear what will happen with the DoCoMo partnership if the Cingular merger goes through, Blasi said.

Separately, AT&T Wireless on Tuesday plans to announce support for text messaging in the United Kingdom, which would allow customers of British carriers to exchange text greetings with AT&T Wireless customers in the United States. U.S. customers can send text messages internationally for 25 cents a message and can receive international text messages at no charge. When U.S. customers are traveling abroad, they can send text messages home for 50 cents each.

In conjunction with the messaging announcement, AT&T Wireless will launch the Nokia 6820 messaging phone, which is the latest version of the Nokia Communicator. The 6820 includes a fold-out QWERTY keyboard, a rotating color display, an integrated camera-video capability and support for both SMS (short message service) and MMS (multimedia messaging). It also supports XHTML browsing, providing users with access to Java content. It runs on AT&T Wireless 2.5G EDGE network and costs $349.99 before rebates. It will be available from retail outlets and on the companys Web site Tuesday.

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