Siemens Signs on to Flash OFDM
By Carlo Longino, Sat Oct 09 01:15:00 GMT 2004

The company inked a deal with Flarion to partner on products based on the standard in the 450 MHz range.

Flarion will develop products for Siemens, including base stations, PC cards, desktop modems, and even a voice handset for delivery by the second quarter of next year. The products will fill a gap in Siemens' network infrastructure range, where it felt it couldn't compete with other vendors offering CDMA equipment that could operate in 450 MHz spectrum, which previously housed analog Nordic Mobile Telephone networks, and is now being utilized in Eastern Europe and Asia. Flarion has been in trials with several operators around the world, but generally with 2100 MHz equipment.

Siemens is the first major equipment maker to adopt Flarion's technology, giving it a significant boost. The support of a major vendor will help alleviate carrier concerns over going with a proprietary technology from a company without a meaningful track record in the industry.

Flash OFDM generally offers download speeds up to 1.5 megabits per second, with upload speeds from 300-500 kilobits per second. It's often compared to WiMAX, but unlike that much-hyped standard, it can already support mobile users traveling at speeds up to 250 km/h. The 450 MHz spectrum can also generate a wider cell radius than the typical 900, 1800 or 1900 MHz bands, and is being used by many operators that don't have 3G licenses to operate in the more common 2100 MHz band. There's been little competition to CDMA at 450 MHz, apart from the little used GSM400 networks, and since Siemens doesn't make CDMA equipment, it didn't have anything to offer operators using that spectrum.

It's interesting that Siemens is focusing on this band, rather than adopting Flash OFDM alongside its UMTS and TD-SCDMA equipment operating in other frequencies, but few carriers operating at 450 MHz have previous equipment to cause compatibility concerns. Flarion has been steadily gathering steam over the past several months, and many observers hold its technology in high regard, but this is the first mention of using the technology for delivering voice service in addition to wireless broadband data.