updated 10:05 am EDT, Thu March 27, 2008
Nokia Siemens EDGE Evo
In an unusual break from its emphasis on 3G and 4G cellular data, Nokia Siemens Networks today said it had developed a method to improve the speed of 2G networks. Called EGPRS 2, the subset of the future EDGE Evolution format adds a second carrier to the data path and promises to dramatically improve the practical speed of the connection in both directions. Downloads can run as quickly as 1.2Mbps downstream while historically slow uploads jump to 473Kbps, according to estimates.
The network partnership claimed this to be four times faster overall than a standard EDGE network and that it allows 3G-class features, such as streaming Internet video or fast uploads for photo and video blogs.
The upgrade is an officially recognized standard and will importantly need little to no hardware changes for carriers to implement, Nokia Siemens added. Instead, a software upgrade due in the summer will let most providers add the feature as an extension of their existing networks. The company did not say whether phones themselves would support the standard without new chipsets. A software upgrade would allow smartphones previously limited to EDGE in some or all areas, such as the iPhone or Nokia's non-Americanized Nseries phones, to gain added speed without a hardware redesign.
EDGE Evolution is said to be crucial to expanding the scope of cellular Internet access, as the current version of EDGE is much more widespread and less expensive to run than faster but shorter-ranged 3G networks.