|Issue:||Latin America II 1998|
|Topic:||The Year of Globalisation for cdmaOne™|
|Organisation:||COMA Development Group, USA|
The adoption rate, of cdmaOne™ has been the fastest of any wireless technology to date. It is already used in more than 30 countries around the world, serving over 7.8 million customers on five continents. The prediction is that by the year 2000 there will be about 60 million Wireless Local Loop (WLL) subscribers around the world, which represents 15% of the global mobile market, and growing to 200 million subscribers by 2005. Here, Mr. Perry LaForge of the COMA Development Group explains why he believes 1998 is the year of globalisation for the technology.
The adoption rate of cdmaOne has been the fastest of any technology to date, and its adoption by major high growth wireless markets around the globe will continue to fuel subscriber growth and improve worldwide economies of scale. CDMA in Europe The unique, inherent advantages of cdmaOne, such as superior voice quality, longer battery life, and unexcelled call capacity have prompted enthusiasm for the technology even in Europe, where competing standards have historically dominated the marketplace. Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than the preliminary results of a field trial conducted in the UK by Vodafone Ltd. and QUALCOMM, Inc. The trial successfully displayed the technical feasibility of cdmaOne-Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) integration, while maintaining cdmaOne over-the-air performance. Elsewhere in Europe, cdmaOne fixed wireless networks are being adopted in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. Customer Satisfaction In North America, where the competition from other digital technologies is most intense, cdmaOne has emerged as the dominant wireless standard. North American cdmaOne cellular and Personal Communications Services (PCS) operators are continuing to build a commanding lead both in subscriber numbers and in geographic coverage. This lead does not result merely from beating the competition to market, but also from superior levels of customer satisfaction. For example, AirTouch Communications reports that over 90% of its customers rate its cdmaOne service as comparable or superior to the previous Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) network. Usage for AirTouch customers who have migrated from analogue to digital has risen an average of 30% due to the improved voice quality and longer talk time. Overall, AirTouch is at least a year ahead of plan on subscriber minutes of use on its cdmaOne system, and in several .service areas, the company will introduce a second carrier six to twelve months early in order to handle the additional volume of calls. Recent reports from around the world reinforce these operator testimonials. In Canada, the Toronto Star reported on newly launched Canadian cdma-One systems in its ‘Consumer Guide to Wireless Phones’. The paper reported that Code Division Multiple Access (COMA) “had the best sound quality. Of all the platforms, it is said to be the most difficult to hack into and eavesdrop upon. Battery life is longest – the battery was sometimes left on for a full day before a charge was needed.” Independent research groups, such as the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), are also singing the praises of cdmaOne systems. TRAC recently declared that “CDMA came out well ahead in power needs, signal quality, reliability and community impact”, compared to other digital wireless technologies. The organisation recommended CDMA as the technology of choice for cellular phone users. Handset Developments 1998 will continue to bring a host of cdmaOne innovations, particularly with handsets. The rapidly increasing availability of dual-band/dual-mode cdmaOne phones is particularly noteworthy, as they provide users with the ability to seamlessly roam from digital cdmaOne PCS systems to traditional analogue systems using the same phone. Dual-band/dual-mode phones, which can operate in CDMA digital mode in the PCS band (1.9 GHz) and in analogue mode in the cellular (800 MHz) band, provide cdmaOne PCS carriers with a significant competitive advantage through expanded coverage. Worldwide, cdmaOne handset manufacturing capacity is likely to exceed 17 million units per year by the end of 1998. The widespread availability of cdmaOne handsets, in turn, is expected to substantially reduce handset prices and make cdmaOne wireless services available to an even larger customer base. Establishing the Global Standard for WLL Some observers predict that by the year 2000 there will be about 60 million Wireless Local Loop (WLL) subscribers around the world, equal to perhaps 15% of the global mobile market. By 2005, that number may balloon to 200 million subscribers. As the growth of fixed wireless systems accelerates over the next year, cdmaOne will emerge as a leading standard for WLL. The unique characteristics of cdmaOne – fewer cell sites, expanded subscriber capacity, superior voice quality, combined fixed and mobile services, superior demand management capabilities, equipment interoperability and economies of scale – provide competitive advantages that proprietary COMA standards cannot match. The clearest proof of the emergence of cdmaOne as a global WLL standard is the number of deployments that will occur this year. By the end of 1997, as many as 16 cdmaOne WLL networks were in commercial operation or deployment across the globe. Continued Expansion of cdmaOne Systems Along with the growth of WLL systems, accelerated growth for cdmaOne mobile systems seems certain in 1998, with the bulk of this growth occurring in Asia. China, Japan and Thailand are expected to launch cdmaOne commercial service in 1998, while Korea will reinforce its position as the leader in cdmaOne subscriber numbers by rolling out PCS services in late 1997 and early 1998. North America will also contribute substantially to cdmaOne subscriber growth due to the continuing system deployments in Canada and the US, as well as the anticipated launch of cdmaOne networks in Mexico and Guatemala. In South America, further subscriber growth will result from the launch of cdmaOne PCS service in Chile and the expansion of cdmaOne cellular service in Peru. In Africa and the Middle East, cdmaOne systems are being adopted or in operation in Egypt, Israel, Nigeria, Yemen and Zambia. Milestones on the road to 3G A number of new features should appear on cdmaOne networks in 1998, providing operators with new opportunities for service differentiation. Among these are Short Messaging Services (SMS), Over-The-Air activation (OTA), and voice-activated dialling. In addition, work is proceeding well towards 64 kbps data capabilities. This is an important interim step between existing cdmaOne networks and the third generation (3G) systems that will arrive after the year 2000. Development of 3G standards is the task of the CDMA Development Group (CDG) Advanced Systems Team. They are working to develop a Wideband-cdmaOne technology that meets IMT-2000 requirements for high-speed data, global mobility, and other services identified as critical by the carrier members of the CDG. While the work of defining standards moves forward, laboratory testing of 3G equipment and software will also proceed. Another possible milestone for 1998 will be the extension of cdmaOne to frequency bands that are not currently served by cdmaOne systems. While these achievements do not yet represent a true 3G capability, they will serve as visible evidence of our progress toward viable 3G cdmaOne systems. Conclusion Throughout 1998, the CDG and its member companies will work closely with other regional and global standards bodies to identify common ground between systems. This will be necessary to implement the IMT-2000 ‘Family of Systems’ concept and achieve seamless global roaming with the different 3G standards emerging around the world.