ATLANTA - Verizon Wireless plans to make its BroadbandAccess mobile data service available to one-third of its U.S. wireless customers this year, the company announced Monday at the CTIA Wireless trade show in Atlanta.
BroadbandAccess will deliver between 300K bps (bits per second) and 500K bps to phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) that will be introduced later this year as well as to already available PC Card radios for notebook computers. The service is already available in San Diego and the Washington, D.C., area. In those areas it $79.99 per month with a one-year contract.
Enterprises are clamoring for this kind of service so they can make their existing applications available to employees on the move, according to Richard Lynch, executive vice president and chief technical officer for Verizon Wireless.
"They're breaking my door down," Lynch told reporters after a news conference at CTIA.
The service, which uses a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology called EV-DO (Evolution-Data Only), will be deployed in a few more cities at first and later in the year will be rolled out in successive waves, he said.
EV-DO, as its name implies, is designed specifically to carry data packets. Initially at least, the CDMA2000-1x infrastructure already deployed across Verizon's national network will handle voice calls, Lynch said.
However, the new technology may well carry voice calls in the future using VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), Lynch said. He was cagey about the carrier's plans for EV-DV (Evolution-Data-Voice) another emerging CDMA technology designed to carry both data and voice. Verizon's first priority is deploying the data service where demand is greatest and it is waiting to set its plans for EV-DV, partly because it may not be necessary if voice can be moved onto the data network in a few years, he said.
Verizon plans to invest a total of $1 billion over the next two years to set up the new service, Lynch said.
Also at the news conference, the Bedminster, New Jersey, mobile operator announced contracts with Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks to provide infrastructure for BroadbandAccess. Verizon is expected to spend $167 million on Nortel infrastructure through 2005, according to a Nortel statement. Lucent announced a three-year agreement under which Verizon is expected to invest more than $525 million in Lucent infrastructure products during the first two years of the deal, according to Lucent.
Verizon also will work with SK Telecom, which has 4.4 million EV-DO subscribers in South Korea, to learn from SK's experience and jointly develop future technology and applications, said Ronald Maness, senior director of SK Telecom International, which is SK's U.S. subsidiary, in an interview after the news conference.
Lynch also did not give details on the possible involvement of Motorola, which has been a Verizon partner in the past, in building out EV-DO or EV-DV networks.
The carrier expects to continue working with existing handset partners such as South Korean vendors LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics. There are about 40 EV-DO handset models currently available in South Korea, Lynch said. Those could be adapted for U.S. use relatively quickly through implementation of features such as E911 capability, he said.