Up the CDMA2000 Staircase

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By InCards
September 15, 2003

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In a recent TMF 'Post of the Day' on the Qualcomm thread titled "Multiplex and Conquer" our esteemed colleague BRational made this statement:

Feature for feature, Nokia's handsets for GSM carriers will continue to be ahead of what it makes available for CDMA, where it is likely to remain an entry-level supplier.

I did not agree with that prognosis when it was made and as a consequence I was pleased to see Nokia release the 1xRTT 6225 last week that indicates they are making good on their promise made last year that they would release a comparable CDMA model for each GSM model they released starting in 2004, and more recent promises that they would now move quickly up the product range.

Mastering the CDMA2000 1xRTT protocol stack took Nokia some time, but it should be noted that they shipped commercial 1xRTT product 6 months ahead of Samsung who spent 3 years on the equivalent project even though Samsung was intimately involved with Qualcomm and SKT in commercializing 1xRTT while Nokia was not.

Nokia worked bottoms up on mastering 1xRTT "by design", one step at a time. They crawled before they walked, and if they are not off and running they are at least starting to jog.

They started shipping their first 1xRTT handset fully 15 months ago (about the same time as Motorola who used Qualcomm's 1xRTT chipset) after several years of development. That handset was about as entry level as entry level can get. It was basic single-band, single-mode, monochrome display, 1xRTT voice only. By the end of the year they were shipping tri-modes with 1xRTT voice and data and J2ME, and by the beginning of this year they had added a full GPS receiver for LBS and A-GPS E911 capability for the US. They are now shipping models with color displays, have coded BREW and added standardized MMS as well as 2-way SMS.

Their first 1xRTT qualification was Leap, followed by Telstra Australia, Metro PCS, and US Cellular, then Sprint PCS. They are now qualified at Alltel, Bell Canada (Bell Mobility), Qwest, numerous LA carriers, Reliance and MTNL in India, and shortly they will be delivering to China Unicom customers using Putian's powerful distribution channels, and probably on Verizon's shelves for utilization on their 2.5G 1xRTT Verizon Express network by Christmas, although that is dependent upon Lou LaMedica's conformance staff ...

... and now we have the Nokia 6225, Nokia's 7th CDMA product release this year.

The model 6225 is HARDLY an entry level handset and it should be a big seller in the Americas where it is getting harder and harder to find a handset capable of one hand operation for the many subscribers (including myself) that simply do not care to "open" a handset or slip in an ear-bud to make or receive a phone call.

Nokia 1xRTT 6225 Features

* Nokia Series 40 user interface
* 3.5 ounces
* Full color 128x128 pixel screen
* Built-in VGA camera
* GPS support for carriers implementing E911 systems
* Java application download via the built-in wireless browser
* Polyphonic MIDI ring tones.
* Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
* Two-way SMS
* Integrated FM Radio
* Synchronizable address book for up to 500 contacts
* Calendar with notes and reminders
* Hands-free Speakerphone
* Voice dialing with support for up to 25 numbers,
* Voice memo recorder with up to 3 minutes of recording time
* Voice commands to activate up to 10 most-used features
* Infrared connectivity
* CDMA2000 1X capability for access to high-speed wireless networks using either:
- wireless browser
- connected to a PC via infrared or cable

Optional Nokia Original Enhancements for the Nokia 1xRTT 6225

* Available Music Stand and Stereo Headset enhance the FM radio functionality
* Available Handsfree devices
- retractable headset
- headrest handsfree
- boom-style headset
* Available Loopset enhancement to facilitate use by customers who use a t-coil equipped hearing aid


* Expected to be available in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions during the fourth quarter of 2003.

It is very positive to see Nokia reducing the lag between European and/or Asian introductions and Americas introductions, even though FCC approval adds a step to the process and in the case of CDMA initial qualification with a carrier takes longer because there is much less consistency in the way data services are implemented than in the GSM community.

A photo of the 6225 is available here:

Obviously the 6225 is virtually identical to the 6200 EDGE model form factor wise, and functionally like the Europe/Asia version of same that is also usable on GSM1900 in the Americas, since it has integrated camera while the Americas tri-mode does not.

We'll probably see an 'i' version of the 6220s that will integrate a camera in the Americas version and allow time slot configuration beyond the current 2+1.

I must say that it is positive to see Nokia working its way up to the Series 40 UI and solidly into mid-tier with their CDMA product range.

I suspect we'll see a CDMA version of the RIM enabled 6800 with camera and full QWERTY keyboard before long.

The big step will be a CDMA Series 60 (or 70?) with Symbian OS v. 7s which supports "cdma" (all flavors supposedly) and hopefully the long awaited "Hilden" Communicator (Series 90?).

The 6225 should sell very well and help ASP. It has one heck of a feature set. I sure would like to see it BREW enabled and qualified on Verizon and Vision enabled and qualified on PCS. If Nokia can pull that off in reasonable time, I will consider them over the CDMA "hump," and I'll lift my yellow caution flag on their CDMA competence, and wave 'em on towards their aggressive target of 25% CDMA market share by 2005 end, but I do think they will need one or two of those dratted "clamshells" to accomplish that very challenging objective.


Belated congratulations to BRational on the TMF 'Post of the Day.'

- IC -

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