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Lucent inks another wireless deal with US Cellular

Telecommunications equipment maker Lucent Technologies rang in the new year with a big win, consummating a $100 million deal with US Cellular to deploy the wireless carrier's third-generation (3G) infrastructure.

Under the five-year agreement inked last week, Lucent will upgrade US Cellular's existing base stations (supplied by Lucent under an earlier deal), and add new base stations to support the carrier's CDMA 1XRTT offerings, the companies said. Lucent will also provide engineering, installation and other professional services to US Cellular as it continues to deploy CDMA 1XRTT technology across its wireless network.

''This agreement will enable US Cellular to provide our customers with a more robust network and advanced wireless services,'' said US Cellular CTO Michael S. Irizarry, contending that the Lucent CDMA technology can improve voice clarity and offer greater service reliability.

Based in Chicago, US Cellular is the nation's eighth largest wireless service carrier, with approximately 3.9 million customers in 26 states, Irizarry said. Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent designs and sells the systems, software and services for next-generation communications networks, utilizing broadband and mobile Internet infrastructure, communications software, Web-based enterprise solutions that link private and public networks, and professional network design and consulting services.

The two companies disclosed their intention to sign the agreement last month, just after Lucent signed a separate $5 billion contract to upgrade Verizon Wireless' high-speed network.

US Cellular began its conversion to CDMA 1XRTT technology in October 2002. Code Division Multiple Access technology is a wireless format that is becoming increasingly popular because of the ease with which it can be upgraded to 3G, observers say. CDMA is a wireless transmission standard that sends digitized transmissions of encoded speech over the airwaves and then uses a unique code to reassemble it in its original format at the receiving end. CDMA assigns a unique electronic code to each call signal and allows many more simultaneous calls over a service provider's network. Lucent expects to complete its conversion in 2004, officials said.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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