New group forms to promote 3G nets

An alliance has formed to help the industry sort through 3G wireless technology.

The group, known as the Americas Body or Newco (new company), was created by a group of North and South American wireless service providers and equipment vendors, including AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Cingular Wireless LLC, Compaq Computer Corp., L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., Lucent Technologies Inc., Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp. Its efforts will focus on what it calls the most popular 3G technologies – those that make up the GSM Communications portfolio.

GSM technologies include General Packet Radio Service, Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution, and Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA).

Newco officials state that their group is committed to developing a common evolutionary path to 3G.

“This will culminate in WCDMA,” says William Plummer, vice-president of industry affairs and government relations at Nokia. “What we’re here to do is promote an understanding of this migration.”

He likens Newco’s work to the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium, the now defunct organization that sought to promote Time Division Multiple Access technology.

Dave Williams, vice-president of strategic planning for Cingular Wireless and ad hoc chairman of Newco, says the alliance will be customer driven.

“We’re really looking to drive the vendors in the direction we want them to go,” he says. “We want to simplify things. People want mobility and ease of use, and we want to help vendors develop products to simplify this desire.”

Williams says that while Newco is not a standards body, it will work closely with existing standards bodies to improve the simplicity and understanding of 3G. “We’re really about building links to the standards bodies rather than doing the work ourselves,” he says.

Newco is scheduled to have the first of its quarterly meetings at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association show on March 18-20 in Orlando.

The group is also contemplating a new name for itself that more accurately reflects its mission. It expects to complete that process by the end of this month.