Nextel to test '4G' broadband service

Cell phone service provider Nextel Communications is set to begin testing a new, "fourth generation" wireless broadband offering later this month with several companies in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area.

Cell phone service provider Nextel Communications will begin testing a new, "fourth generation" wireless broadband offering later this month with several companies in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area.

Nextel said Friday that Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and IBM had signed on to the "4G" trial, which will use equipment from Flarion Technologies capable of downloading data at 1.5 megabits per second. The service will provide high-speed wireless Net access on desktop and notebook PCs, pocket PCs and other devices.

Nextel and other top U.S. cell phone providers are upgrading their networks and hope to recover the construction costs by introducing advanced data-oriented services, such as picture mails, streaming television or downloadable music.

Other participants in Nextel's trial of the Flarion technology are a number of individuals and small to medium-size businesses. The carrier did not disclose how long the trial will last.

Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks are also providing infrastructure support. Billing will be done by Amdocs, a customer care and billing provider.

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