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NETWORK: AT&T Wireless takes its Customers to the EDGE
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 20.11.03 - 10:43:01 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 9260x
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November 18, 2003 - LAS VEGAS - AT&T Wireless today began offering the fastest national mobile wireless data service in North America, enabling businesses to improve productivity by unwiring their operations and providing mobile professionals unmatched coverage and speed.

AT&T Wireless took center stage at COMDEX as it announced the availability of EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution), a significant upgrade to its Next Generation wireless network. EDGE offers average data speeds between 100-130 kbps -- nearly twice as fast as other national mobile wireless networks and up to three times faster than traditional wired dial-up services.

"EDGE gives customers a much-enhanced wireless experience, providing data speeds dramatically faster than 'so-called' 3G services offered by other wireless companies," said John Zeglis, Chairman and CEO of AT&T Wireless. "It boosts the efficiency of a business' work force by giving mobile employees fast and easy access to the same business applications they have in their office. EDGE speeds will make it simpler for people to be as productive when they are on the go as they are in their home or office.

"With EDGE, our customers now have access to the fastest national mobile wireless connections and advanced services in North America. That puts us way ahead of the wireless pack, and it gives business customers another compelling reason to be with AT&T Wireless."

AT&T Wireless said the combination of EDGE's fast data connections, enterprise offers and unlimited data plan will give businesses a distinct advantage over their competitors.

EDGE service is now available nationally to customers located in areas served by the AT&T Wireless GSM/GPRS Next Generation network, covering approximately 215 million people, some 6,500 cities and towns and areas along more than 30,000 miles of major highways. The company is offering EDGE in Puerto Rico and Bermuda, and plans to deploy EDGE throughout its properties in the Caribbean in the near future. In addition, Rogers AT&T Wireless has added EDGE capability in the Greater Vancouver area and will deploy EDGE throughout its Canada-wide network beginning next year. The combined networks provide AT&T Wireless customers across North America with access to high-speed, multi-functional services when they travel.

AT&T Wireless said that business customers can use the EDGE network to access information where they can place a phone call on the company's Next Generation network. Additionally, AT&T Wireless' WiFi service complements the company's EDGE network by offering customers wireless data connections when inside local "hot spots."

The launch of EDGE, which is a true "3G" technology as certified by the International Telecommunications Association, completes the second phase of AT&T Wireless' 3G network architecture strategy. Using the same spectrum as its GSM/GPRS network, EDGE is a cost-effective software upgrade that further compresses how data is transmitted. At less than $2.00 per POP, the company said that the upgrade was highly cost effective.

"Along with significant benefits for our customers, GSM's evolution path enables us to turn the hype surrounding 3G into a reality," said Rod Nelson, chief technology officer for AT&T Wireless. "The EDGE experience doesn't disappoint - it truly lives up to the potential surrounding 3G services."

Additionally, international carriers outside North America are also deploying EDGE. According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, an industry trade group, support for EDGE continues to grow around the world, with more than 60 wireless carriers committed to network deployments including Telia Sonera in Finland, Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy and CSL in Hong Kong.

So far so good and the press release from AT&T Wireless. However I for myself still don't believe in EDGE that much as ATTW seems to believe into it. For me it's more a niche technology for carriers who are not going the real 3G/3GSM way but want to migrate to a slower and not that cost intensive technology only. As good and fast EDGE is today - in the midterm it will work slower then 3G services and - like HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Data) it's world wide implementation will not reach the same figures like today's GSM/GPRS and tomorrow's 3G. In fact this means that international roamers will be much more limited like HSCSD roamers today.
For instance in Germany (the largest European telecommunication market) no operator has any plans to introduce EDGE and the reason is pretty easy: Even if EDGE is based on GSM's core technology and network you have to build a complete new wireless network anyway. So there is no reason for carriers - who plan to introduce 3G/3GSM anyway - to build two new networks in parallel: EDGE and 3G. It's a question of costs and therefore I don't expect to see EDGE carriers to migrate to 3G in the midterm.

This limited amount of EDGE carriers world wide will also limits the amount of EGDE enabled handsets which is - again - a question of the price because a best case terminal has to be triple mode: GSM/GPRS, EDGE and 3G and I wonder who will buy such expensive devices.

So it's nice to see that AT&T Wireless is starting the wireless high-speed future today but in the long run it's nothing which will customers satisfies

Cheers ~ Arne