Verizon Upgrades EV-DO Net

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Verizon Wireless kicked some network sand in the face of AT&T on Friday by announcing its entire EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) network has been upgraded with higher speeds and lower latency.

Although the Apple iPhone going on sale at Apple and AT&T stores Friday has won praise for its design, features and Wi-Fi capability, in its current form the phone uses EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), a form of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) that falls far short of the nation's fastest cellular systems.EDGE averages 70K bits per second to 135K bps downstream.

Verizon announced Friday that its whole EV-DO network has been upgraded to EV-DO Revision A, which the carrier said offers 600K bps to 1.4M bps downstream and between 500K bps and 800K bps upstream. Its earlier EV-DO network delivered 400K bps to 700K bps downstream and just 60K bps to 80K bps upstream, Verizon said. Revision A is also designed for less latency, a type of delay that can hurt time-sensitive applications such as multimedia.

The Revision A network will let a user download a 1MB e-mail attachment in about eight seconds or upload it in less than 13 seconds, Verizon said. The network, which serves Verizon's BroadbandAccess service, reaches 210 million U.S. residents, according to Verizon. Another 50 million people are served by CDMA2000 1x, with download speeds of 80K bps or less.

The upgrade to Revision A was promised by the end of this year, and Friday marked the end of the year's first half, Verizon spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson said. However, the timing of the announcement was opportune for Verizon. The iPhone is set to go on sale Friday at 6 p.m. in all U.S. time zones.

"Fundamentally, wireless service, voice service, any kind of service you want to offer, is only as good as the network that it's on," Nelson said.

Verizon doesn't yet offer any phones that can use the faster network, however. Subscribers can take advantage of it on notebook computers with three different PC Card modems and the USB720 modem for Universal Serial Bus ports. Verizon is working with handset makers to get Revision A phones into the market and working with application developers on services that take advantage of the network, Nelson said. Sprint Nextel Corp., another EV-DO provider, has also rolled out the new technology in many markets.

AT&T is rolling out its own faster network, called HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), which it has said will deliver 400K bps to 700K bps downstream, with bursts as high as 1M bps. It offers handsets and PC Card modems for that network.

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