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Competition for EV-DO & Other stuff

Lest you think that EV-DO is the only cellular broadband game in town, cellular infrastructure and handset providers were busy demoing products for yet another entry into the cellular acronym hall of fame. HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) is being pushed to market in the U.S. even before its predecessor - UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) has gained much of a footprint.

The push is in response to the expected rollout later this year of EV-DO by the newly-merged Sprint / Nextel. Verizon is already aggresively expanding its EV-DO footprint and gaining good reviews for the 300-400kbps throughput experienced by most users. The first iteration of HSDPA is expected to deliver throughput between 400 - 700kbps when it is installed as an upgrade to Cingular's current six-city UMTS installed base by the end of 2005.

Note that HSDPA provides such speeds in the downlink direction only. A separate standard - HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) - is needed to support "broadband" speeds in the other direction. While Nokia announced its High Speed Packet Access
(I-HSPA) solution at CTIA that supports both HSDPA and HSUPA, most of the buzz was on HSDPA. Both Samsung and LG showed compact HSDPA handsets and Lucent and Ericsson were demoing HSDPA-fueled high-speed downloads.

Turning to a few other odds and ends, I saw Samsung's OfficeServ SOHO VoIP tucked into a corner of their expansive booth.

Samsung OfficeServ SOHO VoIP and WIP-5000M VoWLAN phone

Samsung OfficeServ SOHO VoIP and
WIP-5000M VoWLAN phone

It didn't have anything to do with cellular broadband or dual-mode phones, but it sure looked pretty. The booth rep didn't really want to talk about it much, saying that it was currently out in Europe, but that Samsung had no U.S. pricing or availability to share.

Finally, I got ParkerVision's pitch for its new power amplifier business at one of the press events. The story is that the company wants to share some of the "D2D" technology that gives its 802.11b SignalMax products range that rivals products based on Airgo's True MIMO chipset [see Do Extended-range WLAN technologies deliver? for more info]

ParkerVision is working on two approaches to sharing its power amplifier wealth. The Digital Power Amp (DPA) is intended to be a drop-in replacement for existing competitive products so that vendors can easily boost the range of existing products without major redesign.

The Vector Power Amp (VPA) actually replaces the power amp and transmit section of a radio, so it requires much more redesign. But it can provide an even more efficient transmitter design and lower power drain or boost range over competitive designs.

The initial designs handle up to 3GHz, which covers 802.11b, 11g, and most cellular standards. The company expects to have a 6GHz design later this year, which will extend coverage to 802.11a products.

What I really wanted to know, however, is when ParkerVision would have an 11g version of its RangeMax products out. But that answer, my friends, was left still unanswered.

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