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August 16, 2005

Sony Ericsson plans 3G data cards

The data card division of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB will launch 3G/EDGE and 3G/EDGE/WiFi products at the end of this year and expects to offer both HSDPA and HSUPA for faster downlinks and uplinks as those networks come into being.

By CBR Staff Writer

Following the company’s standard naming convention, the 3G/EDGE card will be the GC95, while the 3G/EDGE/WiFi version will be the GC99. The product is expected to be on offer from Cingular in the US and Orange in Europe.

Johan Tysklind, director of mobile computing at the company’s M2M Com division in Kista, Sweden, said Sony Ericsson will be catching up with its main competitor in Europe, Option NV, which has had a 3G card since 2004. We took a strategic decision to concentrate our investments on EDGE because we have a major US customer with an EDGE network, namely Cingular [at that time, AT&T Wireless], and also because we saw EDGE networks growing around the world, said Tysklind.

He said EDGE is an option a lot of carriers in the GSM world have taken in the last couple of years as a means of moving to 3G in a more gradual planned way. EDGE is a second upgrade after GPRS on GSM networks, enabling data rates that are closer to 3G, without the complete network replacement that 3G requires.

This means that operators can carry out upgrades to EDGE throughout their networks and deploy 3G only in built-up areas, with the degradation when a subscriber is outside the 3G zone being less noticeable than if the service drops back to GPRS. GPRS has a nominal downlink of 85 kbps, EDGE 247 kbps and 3G [W-CDMA] 384 kbps, Tysklind said. EDGE also offers better roaming facilities than 3G at the moment, since all the commercial issues around the subject have been settled since the advent of GSM, whereas 3G roaming is still being worked out.

It is in the uplink portion that Sony Ericsson sees one of the differentiators for its technology, both in EDGE and 3G. We offer 123 kbps in EDGE and 384 kbps in 3G, which are data rates that are exclusive to us, Tysklind said. Another distinguishing feature is the company’s global presence because its main competitors tend to concentrate on particular regions.

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