AT&T Places 3G Call to Telecom Equipment Makers

A bevy of telecommunications equipment makers answered AT&T Wireless Group's third generation (3G) wireless call Thursday. Nokia Corp., L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., Lucent Technologies Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp. agreed to sell a variety of telecom infrastructure equipment to help AT&T usher in its next generation of wireless services.

3G technology promises to bring some of the Internet's best offerings to the wireless world. While the U.S. has fallen behind in the 3G race, Asia and Europe now seem poised to begin implementing this technology on a large scale. AT&T's numerous deals have the company gearing up for the Asian and European push and also in a position to spur 3G adoption in the U.S.

Nokia signed a letter of intent with AT&T to deliver GPRS (general packet radio service) network systems along with future wireless terminals. GPRS stands as a precursor to 3G, and Nokia claims that using a GPRS system could accelerate the availability of 3G in the US. The network could launch by as early as the first half of 2001.

Nokia will provide AT&T with its UltraSite base station and 1900 MHz EDGE 3G radio systems. The two companies will also create a testing center in Redmond, Washington for the development of mobile Internet technologies with an emphasis on multimedia applications.

Ericsson plans to equip AT&T with its R520 mobile phones which will run on AT&T's GPRS network. Ericsson will likewise provide base station systems, including GSM (global system for mobile communications) for voice, GPRS for packet data and EDGE (enhanced data rates for global evolution) and UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications system) for 3G applications.

Not be left out of the mix, Nortel tentatively agreed to supply network infrastructure equipment to AT&T and to start another wireless applications lab. This deal should smooth the transition form 2G to 3G networks, Nortel said in a statement.

Lucent will also add a variety of its own networking equipment which will run alongside AT&T's current digital PCS (personal communications services) network.

AT&T: http://www.att.com

Nortel: http://www.nortelnetworks.com

Ericsson: http://www.ericsson.com

Nokia: http://www.nokia.com

Lucent Technologies: http://www.lucent.com

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