AT&T Wireless Services announced it has begun to test third-generation wireless technology at the AT&T Labs research centre in Silicon Valley. The company has established a testbed for high speed wireless data transfer utilizing General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) equipment from Mitsubishi, Motorola and Nortel Networks. The network at AT&T Labs will be open to application software developers in Silicon Valley as well as AT&T engineers and technicians. The test network will not be available commercially. ‘GPRS technology is a cornerstone of new advanced wireless standards approved by the International Telecommunications Union,’ said David Nagel, Chief Technology Officer of AT&T and President, AT&T Labs. ‘GPRS is at the core of new EDGE [Enhanced Data for Global Evolution] electronics and will provide high speed data transfers that will eventually be deployed commercially at 384 kbps and beyond, many times faster than today’s dial-up modems.’
The company will also install GPRS test nodes at AT&T Wireless Services’ headquarters in Redmond, WA, and at AT&T Labs in Florham Park, N.J. ‘Our focus in California is to work with application software developers to create new products and services that may exist on the final commercial network, which we hope to trial next year and then deploy in 2002,’ said Nagel. He also pointed out that higher transfer speeds will make wireless connectivity to the Internet more convenient.
‘It will also make the wireless Internet a richer platform for innovation than the personal computer, and one that will bring the power of communications and the Internet together for even greater numbers of consumers.’ Some industry analysts predict that there will be more than one billion subscribers around the world using wireless technology in the next three to four years. Today, there are more wireless phones sold annually than personal computers.
EDGE technology has been specified to provide: high-speed data transfer rates of up to 384 kbps; global roaming; and advanced multimedia (digital video, digital audio, high resolution telemetry, etc.).
EDGE brings together two major digital standards: TDMA in the Americas (the standard AT&T currently uses for its Digital PCS network) and GSM in Europe and Asia. Together, these two technologies cover more than 350 million customers around the world. ‘This is a milestone for the industry as we begin working on the nextgeneration of technology,’ said Roderick Nelson, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of AT&T Wireless Services. Nelson said AT&T wireless customers will eventually be able to use voice, data, video and other multimedia services in most major population centers across the globe, directly from their AT&T wireless device.