Interest in CDMA EV-DO Rev. B heating up

Interest in CDMA EV-DO Rev. B heating up
Just when it looked like CDMA 1xEV-DO Rev. B was going to be dead in the water, it appears the technology is gaining some momentum, thanks to the threat of WiMAX, say CDMA vendors.

Rev. B is not so much a new technology as an added feature to existing Rev. A platforms, which have been deployed by Sprint and Verizon. It takes multiple 1.25-megahertz channels into one super channel, allowing users to share the compounded capacity of the combined spectrum. Vendors expect that a 5-megahertz Rev. B channel will support average downstream rates of 9.3 mbps, representing an improvement over Rev. A by three times.

Rev. B certainly hasn't received quite the warm reception that EV-DO Rev. A technology received when first announced. CDMA operators have questioned whether there are applications that would demand the extremely high data rates of Rev. B beyond those in niche markets. It was thought that EV-DO Rev. A would ride CDMA operators through until they needed to make the jump to OFDMA-based networks.

When Qualcomm introduced its first EV-DO Rev. B chipset in March, people wondered why. Now Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDMA Development Group, says he is surprised about the level of interest surrounding Rev. B.

The interest now has to do with timing, say CDMA advocates. "Operators are now looking at it as an alternative to WiMAX. They're looking to stay competitive with WiMAX in the first iterations," said Daniel Locklear, director of mobility access product marketing with Nortel Networks.

One advantage of Rev. B is the fact that existing Rev. 0 and Rev. A handsets can benefit from the capacity advantages, said Dave Nowicki, vice president of marketing and product management with Airvana, which recently announced that it successfully complete a Rev. B call in its development lab. Airvana will commence Rev. B trials this quarter.

I'll be interested to see who commits to Rev. B. I remember when CDMA operators were leery in 2000 of dedicating an entire 1.25-megahertz channel to EV-DO Rev. 0, wondering if there would be enough demand for high-speed data services. It seems that history may be repeating itself.--Lynnette