Carriers say security concerns are creating increased demand for 3G wireless services

Carriers say security concerns are creating increased demand for 3G wireless services

'There is a need to travel less and increase productivity.'

Threats of terrorism have spurred government agencies to hold more videoconferences and make communications networks more redundant, said Anthony G. D'Agata, vice president and general manager of Sprint Corp.'s government systems group.

'The federal government has been fairly immune to recession, and we expect activity to continue at a high rate in 2002,' D'Agata said.

Sprint will roll out a so-called 3G wireless network in midsummer. 3G is an International Telecommunications Union specification for a third generation of mobile communications technology. Analog wireless voice was the first generation and digital voice the second; 3G will carry data, video and voice at speeds up to 384 Kbps for mobile devices and 2 Mbps for fixed devices.

Sprint is the second U.S. entrant into the 3G market. Verizon Communications Inc. in January became the first to announce 3G service, initially limited to the Atlantic coast, the Salt Lake City area and the San Francisco-Silicon Valley area. Sprint's network will be nationwide.

Both carriers' 3G rates will top out at 144 Kbps, and Verizon president Ivan Seidenberg said most connections probably would work slower.

The Verizon service requires either an $80 handset connected by cable to a computer, or a $300 PC Card that acts as a wireless modem for a PC or personal digital assistant.

The current-generation Sprint PCS phones will work with its 3G service when it becomes available.

Seidenberg called 3G networks a partial step to widespread broadband connectivity for wired and wireless applications. He criticized regulations that force carriers to make their service delivery facilities available to competitors at below-market rates. Despite that deterrent to investment, Seidenberg said, Verizon made $17 billion worth of capital investments last year.

'It's true we cut back our capital spending in 2001 and will probably cut back somewhat in 2002,' he said, but the telecom infrastructure is still growing.

Going digital

Verizon expects to have its wireless network all-digital by year's end. Sprint's wireless network already is all-digital, and the company is expanding its OC-192 Synchronous Optical Network backbones.

'We keep adding rings even though the market is down,' D'Agata said. 'Redundancy is a hot button right now' for agencies.

To meet demand for videoconferencing, Sprint will discount ViewStation and ViewStation MP hardware from Polycom Inc. of Milpitas, Calif., when bundled with IP transport and Internet access services from its FTS 2001 and General Services Administration schedule contracts.

'The market is ripe for something like this,' D'Agata said. 'There is a need to travel less and increase productivity.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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