Rogers Wireless now on leading EDGE of personal communications services

They’re more than a year behind schedule and the speed isn’t as fast as originally predicted, but Rogers can claim it’s on the leading EDGE (pun intended) with its higher-speed data services.

Whether Rogers can rightfully claim Enhanced Data rates for General packet radio services Evolution

(EDGE) truly complies with the standards for third-generation (3G) wireless services is debatable. Rogers’ EDGE has a theoretical top speed of more than 200 Kilobits per second (Kbps), but for e-mail and messaging applications, the transfer rates could be as low as 90K..

Although the carrier described the service as 3G in its press release announcing the national rollout of EDGE, the technology does not meet the definitions originally specified by the ITU, which calls for transfer rates of 384 Kbps (the bandwidth necessary for VHS-quality video conferencing) for pedestrians.

David Neale, Rogers’ vice-president of new product development, said although EDGE is a 3G technology, the actual transfer date depends on whether the access device offers all eight channels, which provide 56K each. Sony Ericsson’s GC-82 PC Card only has four channels, meaning its theoretical top speed is 224 Kbps but can only be expected to peak at about 170 K.

Neale noted the 3G standard calls for 115K in mobile environments, and Rogers’ EDGE will meet this requirement. But it doesn’t quite meet the expectations set out five years ago, when vendors were bullish on video and data, predicting 3G technology would be widely available in Canada by 2003.

Nevertheless, EDGE is a major breakthrough, because it will provide speeds three times that offered by GPRS. You won’t get VHS-quality, two-way real-time full-motion video conferencing on EDGE, but it will ease the frustration of mobile workers trying to send e-mails or access corporate databases or transaction processing applications on their wireless devices.

Potential customers have to be aware that this is still not true 3G. If you remember what was promised five to six years ago bear in mind that true, nation-wide, broadband wireless access is still not available in Canada.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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