Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nokia Siemens ‘Dual Carrier EDGE’ – useless for today’s iPhone owners?

A software upgrade to 2.5G EDGE networks promises download data speeds of ‘up to’ 592Kbps, rivalling 3G networks, but will today’s iPhones, Blackberries, Nokias and other EDGE phones be able to access it?

Slated to arrive in the third quarter of 2008, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has a developed an EDGE software upgrade it will be offering to the 260 operators in 177 countries that offer a GSM/EDGE network to their customers, offering downlink speeds of up to 592Kbps.

But that’s isn’t the be-all and end-all of the technology – Nokia Siemens is already working on the successor, called EGRPS 2, to “further boost end user experience in up- and downlink performance”.

NSN say that when EGPRS 2 is release, it will result in “downlink speeds of up to 1.2 Mbps and will double uplink speed to up to 473 kbps, thus quadrupling the capabilities of EDGE today”, and that the “EDGE Evolution is based on the 3GPP release 7 standard.”

But EGRPS 2 is still to come in the undefined future – the new ‘up to’ 592Kbps will theoretically start being rolled out by year’s end, helping telcos with existing GSM/EDGE networks get more bang for their buck and better compete with 3G and 3.5G networks, especially in areas where telcos have GSM/EDGE coverage but haven’t installed 3G or 3.5G towers as yet.

As you can imagine, NSN is upbeat, saying it will help enable “a mobile broadband experience, such as maintaining relationships in virtual societies, posting video clips to blogs in real time or streaming the latest news in mobile TV” – although anyone with a 3G or 3.5G phone can already do this.

The big question is whether existing EDGE capable phones will be able to take advantage of the faster network speeds offered by the new software upgrade. Plenty of articles on the Internet claim this is great news for existing iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Windows Mobile (etc) owners, including a CNET story listed below.

But a commenter called “Ian Storrs” in CNET’s story on the same topic makes the claim that it won’t help iPhone, Blackberry or other existing EDGE capable phones at all.

Storrs claims that: “Dual carrier means the phone needs to listen to two downlink channels simultaneously. No handset on the market today supports this. Sadly you will need to buy a new handset to use this feature.”

So, what’s the answer? We don’t have it yet, but have more information on how we hope to get an answer from NSN, as well as more details from NSN's statement on their upgrade on page 2... please read on!


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