Vodafone and Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) today announced that a field trial will be conducted in the UK starting the fourth quarter of this year to demonstrate CDMA wireless access integrated into a GSM network. The companies plan to demonstrate the capability of the GSM A-interface to support CDMA as an alternative wireless access technology, and to evaluate the performance of the hybrid GSM-CDMA system technology. The two companies are world leaders in their respective fields, and by teaming up will demonstrate the integration of state-of-the-art technologies with origins in different parts of the world.
Vodafone and Qualcomm will be conducting the trial of a GSM-CDMA system in Newbury, UK. A primary objective of the trial is to demonstrate compatibility between the CDMA air interface and an existing GSM network through integration at the A-interface. The trial will consist of four CDMA commercial base stations, and a base station controller, all provided by Qualcomm. Vodafone will provide base station sites and a Mobile Switching Center formerly in Vodafone's GSM network.
The mobile phones for the trial will be modified Qualcomm 1.9 GHz PCS phones. The GSM phone software is supplied by The Technology Partnership based in the UK. This phone software is type approved and is already being incorporated into an increasing number of commercial GSM phone designs. The CDMA phone hardware has also been modified to accommodate standard GSM SIM cards. Modifications to Qualcomm equipment are being done at Qualcomm's Israel location. Installation of equipment will begin in June 1997 and both companies will be collaborating closely through the integration and measurement phases of the trial. The measurement phase of the trial is expected to begin in Q4 1997 and continue though Q1 1998.
"Results from the integration and trials will provide invaluable experience in evolving towards third generation systems where multiple air interfaces such as CDMA may be expected to co-exist with a common network," commented Ted Beddoes, Vodafone's technical director.
"Both companies are investing significant research and development resources to ensure the success of the world's first trial of a GSM-CDMA system. The companies may extend the evaluation to build up a thorough understanding of the technical performance of the hybrid GSM-CDMA technology," commented Ronald Foerster, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm's System Interface Unit.
The trial builds on development work undertaken for the Globalstar satellite based telecommunications system, of which Qualcomm is the developer of the ground communications segment and both Vodafone and Qualcomm are founding partners. As part of the Globalstar system design, a satellite-based CDMA air interface to the GSM network has been developed, and working from this starting point, the companies have defined a new concept for the integration of CDMA terrestrial radio access with the GSM network.
The findings will be made widely available to the mobile communications community, to ETSI, the GSM MoU and the CDMA Development Group, where it is hoped that they will be useful to the process of defining a third generation standard.
Headquartered in San Diego, Qualcomm develops, manufactures, markets, licenses and operates advanced communication systems and products based on its proprietary digital wireless technologies.
Vodafone is the UK's most popular mobile phone operator, and is a leading international GSM operator bringing experience of the development, deployment and operation of digital and analogue cellular networks.
The Technology Partnership, based near Cambridge, is Europe's major product development and engineering company and is the world's largest independent supplier of GSM mobile phone technology.
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