Ericsson has followed Nortel in testing the next generation mobile communications network which is due to be in commercial operation by 2002.
The Swedish telco equipment maker is to run a test network at its research and development centres in Guildford and Burgess Hill. Martin Hills, director of technology at Ericsson, said the company will reveal the identity of the network operators next month.
Ericsson's research and development offices will take the guise of a mobile switching centre housing a radio network controller and three base stations supporting mobile devices roaming the area in vans.
A number of other base stations will also be made available to operators interested in setting up their own local test centres.
Said Hills: "This is an experimental system to validate the claims made by third generation mobile networks. We will see how WCDMA performs and demo applications such as video conferencing and other high speed data services."
WCDMA is optimised for data services running at 384Kbps in the Wan with response times in the 100 milisecond area. Users will be able to surf the Internet and talk to friends at the same time, as well as download video images to their handheld devices.
Prospective network operators in the UK will auction for the limited number of licences in the summer. Services are expected to be available in 2002. Initially devices that can support the existing GSM network as well as the newer technology will also be available.
WCDMA is one of two technologies vying for acceptance as the air interface standard among operators. It has already been adopted by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). However, there is another camp which favours a version based on narrow band CDMA called TCDMA.
Nortel is also testing third generation mobile communications technology this quarter.
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