EDGE - a neglected opportunity for a mobile industry under great pressure says new report from Northstream

Allowing operators to offer higher data speeds and certain 3G services via existing networks, EDGE was developed as a natural step between GPRS and 3G. The GSM industry has, however, put all faith into UMTS, a choice that may prove extremely risky.

In the report, presented in London today, Northstream gives various scenarios illustrating how EDGE technology can be used for 3G and how, from both the short and long term perspectives, it compares with the alternative technologies. The report also explains how, together or independently, the different technologies work and how they perform as regards data rate, functionality and geographic coverage. The necessary investments and business cases are also examined.

"EDGE is a thoroughly sound technology. If it had found rapid acceptance amongst operators and manufacturers, its place in 3G would be assured," comments Bengt Nordstrom, President of Northstream. "The conclusion we have now been forced to is that EDGE is in danger of being consigned to a minor role in 3G evolution."

The Northstream report notes that it is TDMA operators in the USA (and not world's GSM operators) who are clearly leading the way in EDGE development. Preferring to focus exclusively on WCDMA, GSM operators have never fully investigated the possibilities presented by EDGE. Without EDGE, the potential of existing systems will not be exploited. Consequently, depreciation of investment in GSM have to be done at an early date and at a point when operators will be faced with the enormous costs of getting the WCDMA networks up and running.

"It is often urged that EDGE technology will become available at the same time as UMTS/WCDMA, and that it can, therefore, be ignored. However, this makes the doubtful assumption that there will be no delay in the development of WCDMA, a completely new technology. As EDGE involves far less radical changes, it would seem a safe bet that schedules will be much easier to keep using this technology. Thus, the industry should carefully consider whether EDGE isn't a sensible complement to WCDMA," concludes Nordstrom.

The EGDE report is being presented today (10.00 - 11.00) at a press meeting in the conference rooms of London's Thistle Tower Hotel. The press are warmly invited to attend. The report may be ordered at: www.northstream.se

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