Telecom gets set for CDMA network

Forward-thinking users won't be able to reserve new, catchy 027 mobile numbers until Telecom actually launches its $200 million CDMA network in May or June next year.

Forward-thinking users won’t be able to reserve new, catchy 027 mobile numbers until Telecom actually launches its $200 million CDMA network in May or June next year.

Telecom has revealed that 027 for seven-digit numbers and 027 4 for six-digit numbers will replace 025 as mobile users buy new phones and upgrade to CDMA, providing a new access prefix and the opportunity to move to the international standard of seven digit numbers.

As well as opening up new numbers, Telecom has reserved users' present equivalent numbers. Users have the next four years to make the change, as Telecom plans to run the two networks side by side for that overlap period.

The CDMA (code division multiple access) network is being built by Lucent, which is also building a CDMA network for AAPT in Australia, and will move mobile traffic from Telecom’s analogue AMPS and more recent digital D-AMPS, which carries 60% of today’s traffic.

Telecom mobile general manager Mohan Jesudason says the new network will allow Telecom to “transition seamlessly to 3G”, (third-generation cellular networks) where the long-term plan is to move through CDMA3x (384kbit/s data speed) to 3G-strength CDMA2000 (2Mbit/s) over an unspecified time frame. That 3G speed is enough for full motion video, fully interactive entertainment and Bluetooth applications.

But first, CDMAOne will launch in May or June with 14.4kbit/s and later in 2001 go to CDMA1x at 144kbit/s, to try to avoid an initial glut of use. Telecom hopes this staging will allow it to go to full data 3G faster than Vodafone, which is swiftly moving from the opposition standard of GSM to GPRS and, after that, Edge (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution).

Telecom’s next CDMA trial is in Waikato in January, with five sites, and a customer pilot in April/May.

CDMA works on the basis of assigning a unique digital code to each user, increasing security. It also spreads calls across the available spectrum. Better privacy, fewer dropped calls and an increased number of calls on the network at one time are promised.

At the launch, all CDMA phones will be WAP-capable, as well as packet data-capable, which means the phone is always connected to the network and users pay only for what they use.

Jesudason says Telecom wants to talk to Vodafone early in the New Year about text messaging across the networks, something that has been fiercely guarded to date by Vodafone.

Telecom says there are in excess of 76 million CDMA customers around the world. GSM has over 120 million users worldwide and is available in 120 countries, according to the GSM Association.

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