UK mobile operator Orange has taken its first step towards offering consumers next-generation mobile services by choosing cable company NTL to build part of its new network.
NTL has secured a five-year contract, worth £150m, to design and build a wideband transmission network for Orange. The network will enable Orange to handle more than 6.5 million voice calls simultaneously.
Orange secured a third-generation (3G) licence for £4.09bn in the controversial spectrum auction in April. The huge bids at the auction, which topped £22bn, led to fears that operators will have spent so much on licences that they will not be able to afford the cost of building networks.
But under the deal with NTL, Orange will not have to build its own network, providing the operator with "instant cost savings", the companies claim. Orange has yet to confirm a supplier for its 3G base stations.
The new network will connect all of Orange's switch sites, call centres and key base station control sites. Orange will have total control over the network, although all network operations and maintenance will be handled by NTL.
"With the advent of HSCSD, GPRS and UMTS, we've moved quickly to ensure our network can handle the increased capacity demands and our customers reap the benefits of new technology immediately," said Didier Lebrat, UK group technical director at Orange.
The advent of 3G mobile services will enable high-bandwidth wireless transmissions, leading to services such as quality video and audio on demand, streaming data on the move, and fax and email.
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