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Verizon launches 600 kbit/s ‘real 3G’ network

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Stateside cellular carriers have fielded plenty of brickbats for describing their 2.5G-speed CDMA 2000 1X networks as '3G' - not least from us. Thanks to a generous decision by the IMTU, 1X is recognized as a 3G-class standard, and Sprint has not lost the opportunity to exploit this in its marketing. Last year a Sprint rep ruefully admitted it was stretching the truth. Until Qualcomm's 1xEV-DO was ready, all the carriers could do was follow Fats Waller's advice and "slave for you" the real thing came along.

But no more. Tomorrow, Verizon will formally launch 1xEV-DO networks in Washington DC and on Qualcomm's home turf in San Diego that offer speeds of 2.4 Mbit/s… pretty much what we were promised when the 3G specifications were being drawn up in the mid-90s. Users can expect real download speeds of between 600 kbits/s and 300 kbits/s. Lucent provided the infrastructure for the DC launch, and Nortel for San Diego.

Unlimited access will cost a mere $79.99 per month.

It's not the first publically available 1xEV-DO network. Monet Mobile Networks launched a service in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas last year. But it offers a contrast to the consumer-oriented roll out of 3G in Europe. Unlike Hutchison, Verizon is backing the 1xEV-DO launch strongly, with immediate availability of data cards for PC notebooks ($149.99 after rebate), and more importantly, VPN support for enterprises. Hutchison's 3 network follows a "walled-garden" model, with no VPN to offer, and forbids instant messaging, setting up own POP email account or accessing your own website: and that's a garden few businesses will want to visit. ®

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