Nortel is to announce next month a number operators and applications providers as partners to test the next generation of mobile communications technology in Europe.
It has already identified Canadian mobile operator Microcell as the network host in their forthcoming trials of third generation GSM taking place in Montreal. The pilots will begin in the first quarter of next year and will last between three and six months.
Nortel and its partners will install an experimental wideband CDMA (WCDMA) network that will enable participants to test a variety of services zipping across the ring at speeds up to 384Kbps. With Panasonic, Nortel will provide users with a range of prototype personal phones, wireless modems, digital cameras and other types of devices.
For example, business users will be able to download corporate videos onto a handheld device, while consumers could order video games to play on the terminal as soon as they are received, explained Ken Blakeslee, vice president of business development at Nortel.
The trial will identify what consumers want and how much they are willing to spend, plus the technological challenges.
Said Blakeslee: "The idea of using bandwidth efficiently has never occured in the mobile environment. Most of the existing networks are digital but are oriented to voice. This is a packet based network and there are a lot of technical challenges to get everything done in a robust fashion."
Blakeslee said Nortel will announce its European trial partners in the next 30 days. The pilots are expected to take place in key regions, including the UK, in small areas where there is a balanced population of business and consumer users.
None of the UK's existing four mobile operators have said if they will participate as yet.
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