Nokia as the leading supplier of the emerging WCDMA industry, has been driving the WCDMA standardisation in 3GPP, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, for the past two years. Nokia is extremely pleased to note that 3GPP has now brought to maturity the first WCDMA standard. The decision in the recent 3GPP plenary meeting in Palm Springs, California, to establish the future compatibility between versions of the standard is proof that standards have reached the maturity level required for the commercial operation of WCDMA networks.
Agreement on the main functions and features of the Release 1999 WCDMA standard was made at the end of 1999, enabling the start of development of hardware components and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for the terminals and base stations. During 2000, the protocols controlling the use of the WCDMA air interface were refined and streamlined, resulting in the first functioning version of the Release 1999 WCDMA standard in December 2000.
This December 2000 version of the standard is the one that Nokia and its test-terminal partners will use as a basis for testing network and terminal equipment during this year.
In order to future-proof the WCDMA standard, the recent 3GPP TSG RAN (Technical Specification Group - Radio Access Network) plenary in March 2001 decided to activate the use of the compatibility mechanisms built in all the 3GPP protocols. When the compatibility mechanisms in the respective 3GPP sub-TSG working groups have been adopted, all subsequent versions of the 3GPP standard will be compatible with each other. This decision takes the 3GPP standard from an initial development phase into a continuous improvement phase.
The newest version of the standard will enable full interworking with the existing GSM networks, thus forming the basis for dual mode GSM / WCDMA terminals that will be required in all the GSM countries and markets. Also in the countries that do not currently have GSM service, the same 3GPP WCDMA version will be implemented next year.
"The results of the 3GPP work so far have been very positive for Nokia and the industry as a whole," says Mr. Pertti Lukander, Director, Standards Strategy and Regulation of Nokia Networks. "The phased approach, which allows operators to pilot with the December 2000 version this year, while concurrently developing the commercial version to be launched next year, enables the timely introduction of the WCDMA products and services."
Nokia network and terminal pilot equipment used for testing until end of September 2001 are based on Release 99 December 2000 version, which is the first end-to-end version of the WCDMA standard to provide mobile network functionality. Network deployment will be started with this release.
"As decided by 3GPP in Palm Springs, the Release 1999 March 2001 version will be the first future-compatible standard providing full WCDMA functionality. Assuming that future compatibility can be confirmed, Nokia commercial network equipment from October 2001 onwards will be based on this Release 1999 March 2001 version," says Mr. Lukander.
The 3GPP holds plenaries every three months, with the next in June 2001, while the working groups meet on a more frequent basis.
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