by Derek Kerton

Cingular Scores World's First EDGE Network

Today in the Indianapolis market, Cingular Wireless takes a big step forward by commercially launching the world's first EDGE network. EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Evolution) is a technology that was put on the shelf years ago, because it was thought to be an unnecessary step on the road to 3G technologies like UMTS. However, the costs and challenges of UMTS have re-opened the window of opportunity for EDGE such that GSM carriers around the globe are planning deployments. While the USA has traditionally lagged the EU with respect to GSM deployments, with EDGE it should come as no surprise that a US mobile carrier has taken the lead: US carriers have not 'wasted' money on UMTS licenses and have no obligation to undergo UMTS expenses, however the US GSM carriers are seriously pressured by the 1xRTT of their CDMA competitors. As a software-based upgrade that provides data rates up to 170Kbps, EDGE is the only logical competitive response to 1xRTT. The US GSM carriers can use EDGE to delay their woes until the CDMA camp goes to EV-DO or EV-DV, at which time GSM carriers will be forced into the expensive UMTS upgrades to remain competitive - perhaps by that time all the bugs will be worked out of UMTS. Cingular is under serious pressure from many sides these days, and it's good to see them taking some leadership.

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