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Evolved EDGE as a Viable Alternative to 3G

GSM operators are increasingly focused on 'Evolved EDGE' as a viable alternative to expensive 3G network upgrades in 2008 and beyond, following the forthcoming release of a new 3GPP standard, according to ABI Research.

With spectral efficiency similar to HSDPA and 1xEV-DO, Evolved EDGE promises to deliver data rates equivalent to 3G while utilizing existing GSM spectrum licenses.

ABI Research forecasts that the Evolved EDGE market will generate $25 billion in revenue from network upgrades and mobile devices during the period between 2008 and 2011, and will reach 504 million subscribers worldwide by the end of that period.

ABI Research analyst Ian Cox says, "As we move to the end of the decade GSM networks will continue to grow, and we expect over 2.5 billion subscriptions by 2010. In parallel, W-CDMA and HSDPA will grow to more than three quarters of a billion. This leaves a huge potential market for Evolved EDGE to be deployed in areas where 3G isn't available."

For users, Evolved EDGE provides better coverage and delivers higher data rates, using a new handset, with power efficiency equivalent to a GSM handset. For operators, Evolved EDGE will enable relatively simple network enhancements to be provided with a software upgrade to existing EDGE-capable networks.

"The radio spectrum can be used more efficiently to provide data service continuity between GSM and W-CDMA," notes Cox. "Evolved EDGE, which uses the same spectrum as GSM and EDGE, will allow broadband data speeds to be supported across the network."

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