In the rush to announce the deployment of third-generation (3G) wireless services in the US, Vodafone's US partner Verizon Wireless is claiming victory.
The company, which is 45 per cent owned by Vodafone and ranks as the largest US wireless operator, has launched the first version of its next-generation network, promising high-speed always-on internet connectivity.
Like its smaller US rival Sprint, Verizon is building its network around Qualcomm's CDMA2000 1XRTT technology.
Although the technology is dubbed '3G' by Qualcomm and its proponents, it delivers connection speeds far slower than the 2Mbps usually reserved for the 3G label. Instead, Verizon's 3G services will look a lot like the 2.5G GPRS services deployed across Europe.
While CDMA2000 networks and phones promise data services at peak speeds of 144 kilobits per second, operators admit that actual speeds are usually less than half that and are comparable with GPRS transmission speeds.
Verizon's decision to go with 1XRTT, instead of switching to GSM/GPRS as rivals including Cingular and AT&T Wireless have done, means that Vodafone's European subscribers will still roam on the rival Deutsche Telekom's Voicestream network when making calls in the US.
Vodafone has tried halting this for sometime with plans for handset suppliers to develop a device capable of working with GSM in Europe and CDMA in the US. So far the technology has yet to make its way outside the labs.
Verizon's new Express Network service will be available on about 20 per cent of its networks, including along the East Coast and in the Silicon Valley, Salt Lake City and the San Francisco Bay areas in the West.
The company plans to roll out the service nationwide by the end of the year. That will put it behind Sprint which announced earlier that it will launch its 1XRTT service nationwide in the summer.
Verizon is keen to focus on the enterprise customer for its initial 1XRTT service and has partnered with consulting firm Accenture to help ease the burden of deploying wireless services behind the enterprise firewall.
According to Accenture, its new Mobile Service Bureau, launched jointly with Verizon's Express, will provide US enterprise customers with an integrated hosted solution to enable business customers to access applications, corporate information, internet, intranet and email from mobile devices.
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