Reliance to launch EvDO services

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, 18 June 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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SAN DIEGO: Reliance Infocomm is set to usher in third generation mobile services in India by deploying CDMA 2000 1X EvDO technology that will enable peak data carriage speed of up to 2.4 megabytes per second.

The service will be unveiled over the next six to nine months in a phased manner. Reliance Infocomm does not intend to upgrade its entire network, but would launch EvDO (evolution data optimised) services in the top metros where it sees demand for high data speeds.

It is expected to start with a soft launch of the service in main business districts such as Nehru Place, Bhikaji Kama, Connaught Place, Nariman Point and Park Street with select high end customers (by invitation only).

When contacted, a Reliance Infocomm spokesperson refused to confirm the news, or share the details of the company's EvDo launch.
But it is understood that the Indian CDMA (code division multiple access) major is currently testing the technology among others with Lucent Technologies, which has supplied bulk of CDMA equipment to Reliance earlier.

Interestingly, Lucent has also been awarded a $30 million contract by Reliance's rival Tata Teleservices for a CDMA network expansion in Andhra Pradesh. Lucent will provide equipment, software and services to increase the coverage and capacity of Tata's network.

The deployment will increase voice capacity on the network and enable Tata Tele to offer value-added high-speed data services such as video streaming and high-speed Internet access to more customers.

Both the Indian carriers had set up CDMA 2000 1X networks nationwide that currently offer a peak Internet access speed of 144 kbps. EvDO is expected to enable higher end data services where the actual output would be around 2 mbps.

In all the areas where Reliance launches 1X EvDO services, both existing 2G and 3G EvDO services will be available so as to continue servicing the low-end as well as target the high-end segment of the mobile customers.

In launching 1X EvDO, Reliance will join the select club of operators in Asia-Pacific which have launched 3G CDMA services for their customers. These include KDDI in Japan, SK Telecom in Korea and China Unicom which plans to launch it soon.

Already, most of the CDMA handset vendors that supply to Reliance, have planned to launch EvDO models. Over the next few months, prices of these handsets are also expected to come down, making them more affordable for the Indian market, according to Qualcomm officials.

The San Diego-based Qualcomm is pushing both Indian CDMA mobile operators Reliance and Tata Tele to launch more applications based on its BREW (binary runtime environment for wireless) platform.

Some of these applications such as location-based services, weather forecasts, video-on-demand, delayed television broadcasts, high-end gaming, or push-to-talk can run most efficiently on networks that support higher data carriage speed such as EvDO.

When Reliance launches its EvDO service, it is also expected to launch some of these advanced offerings as an EvDO network can make best use of such bandwidth hungry services.

For instance, a customer may be able to access TV and engage in video-conferencing while she is on the move. EvDO will also enable access to highly data intensive corporate databases from anywhere, anytime. Both Reliance and Tata Tele are already working towards developing applications based on BREW.

In launching EvDO, a CDMA 1X operator does not have to overhaul its entire system, but the upgrade largely involves comparatively inexpensive software upgrades. After that, the operator can offer not only much more capacity and better data speeds to its subscribers, but also high voice clarity, Net connectivity, e-commerce and m-commerce.

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