Motorola’s dual 2G/3G handset moves a step closer

Motorola Inc.’s A830 cellular handset, the first from the equipment maker to support both second-generation (2G) and third-generation (3G) wireless platforms, took another step closer to wide availability this week with approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The handset, mass production of which began in late September at Motorola’s plant in Flensburg, Germany, supports both GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access).

GSM is the predominant 2G cellular format and is in use in almost every nation in the world that has a cellular service, with the exception of Japan and South Korea. W-CDMA is a 3G format that has been selected by many carriers for new 3G services, including two in Japan. The new handset will mean users will be able to access new 3G services where available and drop back to GSM networks in areas where there is no 3G coverage.

Approval by the FCC, which was granted this week, is a necessary step if Motorola wants to sell the telephone in the U.S. market.

According to information contained in Motorola’s submission to the FCC, the handset supports W-CDMA and GSM at 800MHz, 1,800MHz and 1,900MHz. The former two bands are commonly used around the world while the latter band is used in North America. GSM support extends to GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) packet data transmission.

The phone supports Bluetooth, enabling it to link to other devices supporting the close-area networking standard, and also has an infrared port. There is an optional digital camera that clips onto the back of the phone and a slot for MMC (MultiMedia Card) or SD (Secure Digital) cards which can be used to store pictures and video taken with the camera.

Software in the phone includes functions such as a video and picture viewer, personal organizer and basic telephone functions. The phone also has a micro-browser to allow access to the mobile Internet and features support for Java.

Previously, Motorola has also said the phone includes an MP3 player and GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver.

Motorola is promising availability of the phone later this year. It is expected to be supplied to Hutchison 3G UK Ltd., which is planning to launch its 3G network in the U.K. in the coming months.