U.S. Cellular Gives Up On TDMA

U.S. Cellular , one of the largest digital wireless phone
carriers in the world, is giving up on one of its technology standards to
bolster another after signing an equipment deal with Nortel Networks
Thursday.

The deal calls for 3,500 base stations and switches to migrate to the
code-division multiple access (CDMA) 2000 1X standard — the standard’s
entryway to 3G — over the next five years.

That’s the bulk of its total network, the part using time-division multiple
access (TDMA) technology to deliver wireless phone
communications. According to a report by Reuters, the cost to convert the
network to CDMA2000 will cost between $400-450 million and be available to
the public in late-2002 to 2003.

TDMA, the standard powering the Global System for Mobile Communications
(GSM) cellular phones of companies like AT&T Wireless, has quickly grown
out of favor in the U.S., even though the standard is de facto king
throughout Asia and Europe.

American wireless carriers like Verizon and Cingular use CDMA2000
technology however, a spread spectrum technology many consider better for
handling data packets over the air.

Pascal Debon, Nortel Networks wireless networks president, said he’s
pleased to help the company transition the rest of the network to the
popular equipment.

“U.S. Cellular is a long standing customer, and we are committed to helping
them drive down costs through networking efficiencies based on our CDMA
solutions,” he said. “We have shown tremendous momentum in recent months
with contract wins across the globe that are extending our next- generation
wireless footprints. We have now announced more than 25 major 3G contracts
globally, and are proud to see the world’s leading operators turn to Nortel
Networks as a primary infrastructure provider.”

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