AT&T Wireless promises all-IP real 3G

Nortel, Ericsson wins

AT&T Wireless today repeated its commitment to launch a scaled-back 3G network Stateside by the end of next year, alongside its upgraded "2.75G" EDGE network.

The carrier began the migration from its TDMA network to GSM/GPRS two years ago, and its CTO Rod Nelson remains bullish about the decision. Nokia says that its base stations have been EDGE-capable since 2001.

But the 3G launch will use equipment from Nortel and Ericsson, and is all-IP based.

DoCoMo invested almost $10 billion for a minority stake in AT&T in November 2000, with the soon to be spun-off Wireless division receiving $6.2 billion. DoCoMo took out a loan described as the largest ever credit deal in Japan.

The agreement gave the US carrier rights to use DoCoMo's iMode technology and originally stated that AT&T Wireless must launch thirteen 3G markets by June next year. That has since been scaled back to four by the end of 2004. If AT&T doesn't make the deadline, it will have to return the money with interest.

That buys more time for AT&TW to iron out the early problems with W-CDMA networks. And who knows, by the end of next year, there might even be an attractive 3G handset to use. ®

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