Nokia, Ericsson nail down Cingular wireless deals

Cingular Wireless LLC, the number-two mobile phone carrier in the U.S., has tapped Nokia Corp., the world's largest mobile phone maker, to be the main infrastructure equipment supplier for its upcoming 3G (third generation) network, the companies announced Monday.

The deal, worth over US$1 billion, is the largest ever for its network-equipment division, Nokia said in a statement.

In October, Cingular announced it was moving from its existing TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) network to GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) technology in order to offer customers fast wireless data connections.

At the time, Cingular said that it would spend $3 billion on upgrading its networks and was hammering out deals with Nokia, L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. and Siemens AG to provide the network, services and handsets.

Ericsson on Monday also announced that it has also signed a contract with Cingular Wireless, though it would not release terms of the deal.

"We are not in a position to give any dollar figure, but of the three players named as part of the build-out, we are significantly the largest," said Ericsson spokesman James Borup. "We got about 60 percent of the core network and just less than half of the radio part," he added.

Cingular was not immediately available for comment on the Ericsson deal.

Nokia is expected to supply the equipment for Cingular's GSM network, GSM/EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment), by early 2002, the company said.

As part of the contract, Nokia will supply the technology for a dual-band (850MHz and 1900MHz) mobile service with such products as Nokia's UltraSite triple-mode (GSM/EDGE/Wideband Code-Division Multiple Access) base stations, Nokia's DX 200 circuit-switching platform and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) packet-core network product, the company said.

Cingular, like other wireless telecommunication companies, plans to build out its next generation networks in phases: from GMS to GPRS to 3G. The company plans to have 50 percent of its current network served by GSM by year-end 2002, with its GPRS network available across the U.S. by 2004.

Cingular rival AT&T Wireless Group Inc. announced a move to GSM and GPRS last year and also has contracts with Nokia and Ericsson for similar infrastructure equipment.

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