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Verizon Wireless, the mobile carrier jointly owned by Verizon Communications of the US and Britain’s Vodafone, announced plans to upgrade its current 3G network using technology supplied by Lucent Technologies.

Seperately, Alcatel, the French telecommunications equipment group that is in the process of acquiring Lucent, said its had signed a deal to supply Bell South with WiMax wireless broadband equipment for test deployment.

Verizon Wireless said it would deploy the new ‘EV-DO Revision A’ technology developed by Qualcomm, the US mobile telecoms technology group, throughout its nationwide network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The new technology, a software and hardware upgrade to Verizon’s existing EV-DO network infrastructure, will enable Verizon Wireless to introduce a range of new services such as enhanced push-to-talk, messaging, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

“EV-DO Rev. A is a robust technology that will allow us to provide our customers with new services that blend voice, data, video and multimedia applications,” said Ed Salas, vice president of network planning, Verizon Wireless.

Meanwhile Bell South, the third largest US telecommunications group, said it would test equipment developed by Alcatel of France based on an emerging wireless broadband technology called WiMax. The agreement comes four months after Alcatel conducted the industry’s first live demonstration of the newly ratified WiMAX 802.16e standard.

BellSouth, the first major telecom provider to commercially launch wireless broadband using pre-WiMAX technology in the US, will begin lab trials next quarter based on Alcatel’s Evolium WiMax equipment. “Alcatel believes that broadband wireless access technology offers important strategic value to carriers looking to deliver the high-speed, high-quality services that their customers expect wherever they are,” said Hubert de Pesquidoux, president of Alcatel’s North American activities.

It proponents, which include Intel, the US chipmaker, claim WiMAX will enable carriers to offer a cost effective fixed, nomadic or mobile wireless broadband services in areas where DSL is unavailable for technical or economical reasons. It will also enable new carriers to offer alternative ‘last mile’ voice and broadband access services in competition with established cable and telcomms operators.

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