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T-Mobile tries on start-up's wireless gear

Flarion Technologies is making its European debut by powering T-Mobile's wireless broadband service in The Hague.

European cell phone giant T-Mobile International said Wednesday that it's conducting a trial of superfast wireless broadband gear from Flarion Technologies, giving the New Jersey-based start-up its first step into the European broadband market.

The Flarion equipment is powering a T-Mobile wireless broadband service in The Hague, Netherlands, where users are typically experiencing downloads of 1 megabit per second and uploads of between 300 kilobits per second and 500kbps, the carrier said.


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"T-Mobile is constantly investigating and screening new mobile broadband technologies," Hans-Eckhard Kruger, an executive vice president at the carrier, said in a statement. "As a leader in existing wireless broadband technologies like 3G (third-generation wireless networking) and Wi-Fi, we are eager to learn more about future technologies."

Since its debut a couple years ago, Flarion's gear has been elevated from its place as a niche product to one that's mentioned alongside third-generation cell phone equipment, Wi-Fi and WiMax as one of the major wireless technologies that broadband providers can choose from.

While Flarion has attracted big-name partners--Vodafone's Japanese subsidiary is conducting a technical trial, while Nextel Communications uses the gear to sell broadband in North Carolina--hesitancy over Flarion's as-yet unproven track record has dampened sales of the gear.

But the company had expected as much, a representative said: "We have to establish ourselves as a viable player, which the T-Mobile announcement helps."

Of the various technologies from which broadband providers can choose, WiMax leads in speed but lags in commercial development. WiMax networks, in theory, can let customers download data at speeds of up to 2mbps.

3G cell phone technology, which is made by Qualcomm and others, is the slowest of the three more-established technologies, but it's the most reliable for now. Verizon Wireless' BroadbandAccess service, based on Qualcomm's 3G cell phone technology, downloads at speeds of 300kbps to 500kbps, while uploading averages between 40kbps and 60kbps.