Nextel Moves Forward With New Broadband Wireless Trial

from the trials-all-around dept

Nextel got a lot of attention last year when they announced their Raleigh-Durham broadband wireless trial, using FLASH-OFDM technology from Flarion. The offering was reasonably priced (no, seriously) and offered high speed, mobile broadband access all over the region. In fact, there were plenty of rumors that Nextel was all set to announce Flarion’s technology would be the basis of their next generation network. Then, along came the Sprint merger, along with Sprint’s own plans to offer EV-DO broadband wireless technology. Still, many people thought that the combined Sprint-Nextel (officially named: Sprint) might offer two levels of service: an EV-DO offering focused mainly on mobile phones, and another offering aimed at DSL replacement. The combined company would most likely have enough spectrum to handle both types of offerings, and given Nextel’s trials with Flarion, it seemed like it might be the technology they would use. Then, without much warning, Nextel shut down the Flarion trials, despite saying it had been a tremendous success. Almost everyone who tried it said they loved the service, and the new assumption was that Nextel figured they would just go with EV-DO once the merger was complete. Still, Nextel is famous for being incredibly thorough in trials that they do, and while the Flarion trial got all the publicity, they were still testing out plenty of other technologies in the lab (including EV-DO, pre-WiMax equipment, and UMTS-TDD). With that background, some may still find it surprising that, just ahead of the merger deal, Nextel is announcing trials with IP Wireless for UMTS-TDD technology in Washington DC. Unlike the Raleigh-Durham trials, this won’t be entirely open to the public — just to certain select Nextel customers. However, it’s a pretty big win for IP Wireless, who seems to be on a roll, lately.

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