Telecom's 2.5G offering joins Vodafone's

Telecom will launch its new cellular network this week but Vodafone won't be having a party for its upgraded system - it's already running.

Telecom will launch its new cellular network today, but Vodafone won’t be having a party for its upgraded system — it’s already running.

Both telcos are upgrading their cellular services with higher-speed networks, so-called 2.5G, although it will be the end of the year before either is operating at full speed. Vodafone says its GPRS network was launched at the end of last year.

Telecom’s new CDMA network will be able to deliver relatively low speed at first — only slightly faster than the existing D-AMPS network — but will run at up to 150Kbit/s by the end of the year. However, the transmission speeds the end user achieves will be determined by a number of factors, from number of users on a particular cell site to the distance from the cellsite tower. CDMA will work with four phones from Hitachi, Kyocera and Samsung. Vodafone’s GPRS network also runs at relatively low speed though Vodafone promises the network will run at up to 144Kbit/s by the end of the year.

The advantage of both CDMA and Vodafone’s GPRS networks is that the end user is always connected to the network. If an email arrives for the user it is delivered to the phone directly rather than the user having to dial into a server to receive the message.

GPRS has been dogged by claims that at its highest data transfer rates, emission from the handsets exceeds international radiation guidelines. A spokesman for Motorola told New Scientist magazine earlier this year that increasing the speed led inevitably to the increase in emissions, although Motorola later retracted the statement.

Vodafone New Zealand’s director of engineering, Arthur Neely, confirmed to Computerworld that such data rate capping will take place. “I think that’s an accurate comment,” said Neely, when asked about transmission being restricted to 20Kbit/s to 30Kbit/s.

“I think the next round will be compression techniques to get it up to 54Kbit/s or 56Kbit/s.”

GPRS is also nicknamed “getting phones real soon” in response to the fact that handsets are hard to get.

Pricing for Telecom’s network has yet to be announced. Vodafone will bill from $30 a megabyte excluding GST.

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