Rocom Wireless talks up CDMA, spikes GPRS

Telecom partner Rocom Wireless has begun talking up the telco's soon-to-be-switched-on CDMA network, simultaneously talking down Vodafone's rival GPRS network.

Telecom partner Rocom Wireless has begun talking up the telco's soon-to-be-switched-on CDMA network, simultaneously talking down Vodafone's rival GPRS network.

The head of Rocom Wireless' computing division, Luigi Cappel, says while he's seen evidence of CDMA applications in action, he can't say the same about GPRS applications. And despite being allied to Telecom, he insists he's not being "one-eyed" about the issue.

"I believe CDMA offers more opportunities at present," Cappel told a seminar in Auckland last week.

Rubbing further salt in the GPRS wound, he says the initials were translated by attendees at a 3G network conference in Australia last month as meaning "getting phones real soon".

Rocom is angling to be a "mobile virtual network provider", or MVNO, which managing director Steve Borich describes as a new type of business which will grow up around mobile data networks.

"MVNOs will resell bandwidth, which is the logical next step for Rocom," Borich says.

Exactly how much bandwidth might be disappointing for early mobile data users over the CDMA network. According to Cappel, data speeds will be limited to 14.4Kbit/s initially, only marginally faster than the 9.6Kbit/s possible over exsiting mobile networks.

"It's a helluva lot better than 9.6Kbit/s," Cappel maintains, and will be adequate for many applications.

He says tests at 64Kbit/s have been successfully carried out and "this year will have high-speed data".

Exactly when is also unclear, but Cappel is expecting Telecom to switch the network on in June.

In January Vodafone said it expected to get its GPRS network running in the first quarter, but it acknowledged a shortage of handsets. The first, from Ericsson, were expected in April, but the company says availability "is still an issue".

The network has been running nationally since last year and is being used by "selected customers", says business marketing manager Todd McCleay. "We are not, however, able to formally launch the service until we are assured of a reliable supply of handsets. As yet, we're unsure when this will be."

Cappel says sales and service applications are suitable for use over mobile networks. He showed the example of a local authority application that would enable building inspectors to download to a device in their vehicle a list of construction sites due for visits, avoiding having to return to base for the information.

Telecom has opened a testing facility in Wellington for mobile data applications.

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