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Nokia Makes 3G Call Over 2G Network
By: MarkJ - 15 November, 2006 (9:26 AM)

Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia has successfully managed to make a 3G call over an older 2G (900MHz) network, which could vastly improve coverage and may even work with 3G data services:

The call was made over the Finnish network Elisa, using Nokia's Flexi WCDMA technology to transmit 3G traffic through the previously GSM-only base station infrastructure.

Using the lower frequency can stretch coverage by as much as four times, so Nokia's advance could also lead to cheaper rollouts of 3G or HSDPA (3G's souped-up successor) in rural areas, as infrastructure costs would be lower. Ari Lehtoranta, senior vice president of radio networks at Nokia, said on Monday that the WCDMA900 call was "another testimony of Nokia's strong commitment to support operators in developing their offering to better meet the demand that they face in today's increasingly competitive environment".

Two UK operators Vodafone and O2 already use the 900MHz band for their GSM services. At the 3GSM conference in February of this year, O2's chief technical officer Dave Williams called for "dialogue with the regulators on how to reuse 2G frequencies for 3G". UK regulator Ofcom said at the time that it was conducting "further economic and technical analysis of the issues with the assistance of external consultants".

Suffice to say that ZDNet's item is quite a major development, bringing the prospect of cheaper 3G broadband data services that much closer.

Typically there are regulatory and license issues complicating matters, such as the clause which states that only 2G services may be used on a 2G band. We'll have to wait for Ofcom's verdict before knowing.

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