EV-DO to Get a New Name: UMB

Perhaps the name was getting a bit too long, but beginning with the next revision of the EV-DO data standard the technology will be referred to by the acronym "UMB," short for Ultra Mobile Broadband.

Otherwise known as CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Revision C, UMB promises data rates of as much as 280Mbps downstream in mobile environments. The application of the technology is still quite a ways off; the UMB standard will not be completed until next year, with commercial availability by 2009.

The CDMA Development Group (CDG), a industry trade association, says UMB would deliver data faster by many times over that of any current solution. For example, Revision A, currently commercially available from US carriers Sprint and Verizon, provides 450-800Kbps in a fixed situation.

Even the planned Revision B, due out commercially in 2008, pales in comparison. That technology is expected to deliver rates of up to 46.5Mbps, again in fixed situations.

The advantages of UMB are numerous: latency has been greatly reduced, and it uses spectrum much more efficiently than any previous CDMA technology. In addition, handsets would benefit from much better battery life and efficency due to these enhancements.

UMB would use MIMO and SDMA in order to provide greater capacity and coverage, CDG said. Unlike some technologies which degrade in throughput in fringe coverage areas, the group claims that the data rates would stay consistent throughout the entire footprint.

Proponents of the new standard say that the latest incarnation could be CDMA's ticket to finally breaking the stranglehold GSM has on mobile technology. While CDMA has seen gains with the advent of 1xRTT and EV-DO, the technologies do not offer much above what 3G GSM options such as HSDPA and UMTS provide.

More importantly, UMB would be able to handle inter-technology handoffs between itself and 1xRTT or EV-DO systems, allowing carriers to implement it without disruption in service. Since it is an evolutionary upgrade, CDG says it would also speed deployment times.

As of the most recent survey of 3G usage worldwide by 3GToday.com, 44.4 million users worldwide were subscribed to EV-DO based services, compared with 83.6 million using UMTS. However, adding 1X to the mix puts CDMA in the lead, as approximately 267.2 million were reported to be using the technology as of September 2006.

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