August 3, 2004 8:40 AM PDT

3G wireless arrives in Europe

3G wireless technology has hit Europe.

Czech carrier Eurotel Praha launched on Monday an Evolution Data Optimized (EV-DO) service. EV-DO is a next-generation CDMA (code division multiple access) technology that offers data transmission rates of 300kbps to 500kbps.

Eurotel Praha asserts that its service is the first CDMA2000 1xEV-DO launch in Europe. The carrier is using an unlicensed band of radio frequency--450MHz--which is expected to keep costs down, because the company didn't have to buy additional spectrum. Eastern European and Asian countries have taken the lead in deploying services in the 450MHz frequency, which was originally used by Nordic Mobile Telephone to provide analog services.

EV-DO, a third-generation technology, is also gaining momentum in the United States. Verizon Wireless and Sprint are using the technology to build their next-generation wireless networks. Verizon, which has launched pilot services in San Diego and Washington, D.C., has poured more than $1 billion into its network.

For the last couple years, there has been a lot of hype surrounding third-generation, or 3G, mobile phone service, which is capable of transmitting e-mail, pictures and video at a high speed.

In the past, several carriers tried to pass off new wireless services as 3G. But few services actually met the requirements for 3G. Instead, these services became labeled 2.5G. According to the Federal Communications Commission's Web site, to truly label a wireless service 3G, it must be capable of minimum speeds of 144kbps while in motion, 384kbps while walking and 2mbps while stationary indoors. With several carriers adopting EV-DO, it looks as if 3G is becoming a reality.

Eurotel Praha is using gear from Nortel Networks to build its network.

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Europe still ahead in Cell tech.
Interestingly enough, cellular technology appears to be one field where increased competition in the US has not yielded superior technology or products. In the right context, this reflects the benefits of a standard network configuration and may even provide a model for determining how competition slows progress in some markets.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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3G has been in Europe for over a year
This story is highly misleading. While it's true that this is the first deployment of CDMA EV-DO in Europe, that doesn't make it the first 3G network in Europe.

Most major European operators are building 3G networks based on WCDMA, a standard that's more compatible with GSM currently used by almost all operators. A company called "3" has 3G WCDMA networks in operation since over a year in countries such as United Kingdom and Sweden. Others like Orange have opened their WCDMA networks to the public recently.

There's practically no chance that CDMA EV-DO will catch on with any major operators in Europe. These tiny East European operators using 450 MHz CDMA are a curiosity, not much more.
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