Delegates hail GSM

Delegates hail GSM
GSM World Congress in Cannes sees firms prepared to invest heavily in GSM mobile phone technology; general packet radio service also causing a stir; EDGE put forward as rival to next generation UMTS. Roy Rubinstein in Cannes Extending current GSM mobile phone technology continues to be a focus for equipment makers and silicon vendors despite the need for huge investments to develop third generation mobile standards. “We are betting on the future of wireless in many ways,” said Olli Oittinen of Nokia’s Radio Access Systems group. Nokia’s efforts in third generation UMTS basestation development alone represents “an enormous R&D investment”, he said. “Yet in ’99 we are investing far more in GSM than ever before.” The importance of the Phase 2+ data extensions in securing GSM’s longevity was a view widely held at the GSM World Congress. “GSM will live as long as my crystal ball has any visibility,” said Oittinen. It is a view shared by the silicon suppliers. “Phase 2+ will give an extended life to GSM and [as a result] UMTS may be a little later than thought,” said John Hughes, Lucent Technologies managing director for Europe. “GSM Phase 2+ is very important and not to be underestimated,” said Edgar Auslander, Texas Instruments’ strategic marketing director for worldwide wireless. “The question is will people need UMTS right away?” What is exciting the DSP vendors is general packet radio service (GPRS), a multi-slot packet scheme allowing users to send and receive data at up to 115kbit/s. “We will have a GPRS implementation in the second half of this year and it will be commercially available in mid-2000,” said Nokia’s Oittinen. Beyond GPRS, the EDGE (enhanced data for GSM evolution) standard enabling data rates up to 384kbit/s is also being developed. “Once we have Edge, new radio, new modulation schemes and new channels will be required, allowing much more data to be squeezed through,” said Oittinen. EDGE is already being spoken of as an attractive alternative for operators who end up without a UMTS licence.


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