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Sprint Plans Aggressive Rev. A Handset Rollout

Las Vegas — Sprint Nextel plans an aggressive rollout this year of cellular handsets equipped with high-speed CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A technology, and a touchscreen phone designed to compete head-on with the iPhone will be among the first available.

About 12 Rev. A handsets will be available by year’s end, starting with the HTC Mogul Windows Mobile PDA phone, which got a downloadable Rev. A upgrade in March, Sprint Nextel said here at the CTIA Wireless 2008 convention. The next Rev. A phone, the touchscreen-equipped Instinct multimedia phone, lacks hard-button dialing keypad, features motion user interface and will be the industry’s first consumer-oriented cellphone with Rev. A when it ships in June through all Sprint channels, the company said.

The phone, co-developed with Samsung, will be available at a price “significantly less than the iPhone” but with significant enhancements over the iPhone, said Sprint chief marketing officer John Garcia. The iPhone retails for $399 for the 8GB version and $499 for the 16GB version. The Instinct, said one Sprint representative, will be available for less than $300 with two-year contract and included 2GB microSD card. The phone will accept 8GB microSD cards as well.

Instinct’s enhancements over the iPhone include Rev. A cellular data rates that exceed cellular EDGE speeds, haptic feedback when a virtual button is pressed, video capture, GPS navigation, Sprint’s cellular-band live-TV service and Microsoft Exchange email. Consumers navigate the user interface by fingertip just as they do with the iPhone, but fingernail navigation is also available in a nod to the preferences of female users, the carrier said. Like an iPhone, the Instinct features full-screen HTML Web browsing with pan and zoom capability, but the Instinct lacks the iPhone’s Wi-Fi.

Other Sprint-network Rev. A handsets will be the carrier’s first CDMA handsets with Qualcomm’s QChat

push-to-talk (PTT) technology, which requires a Rev.A networks and delivers sub-second PTT connections on a par with Nextel iDEN-network PTT service, said VP Danny Bowman. CDMA QChat phones will connect to iDEN-network PTT phones, he emphasized. For both networks, the PTT service is branded Nextel Direct Connect.

The first Rev. A phones with QChat will be the Sanyo Pro 200 and 700, available in early April in Sprint’s two QChat launch markets of Kansas City and Denver. In June, Sprint will have expanded QChat to 43 markets reaching 65 percent of the U.S. population. At that time, the QChat selection will expand to include a Samsung phone and an LG model. Another Samsung model and a Motorola model are due in late summer. Also in midyear, Sprint will offer a Rev. A Windows Mobile PDA-phone from Palm, and two more Rev. A Windows Mobile phones from HTC will be available by the end of the year.

Before it began offering its first Rev. A handset, the only Rev. A devices available from Sprint were wireless modems.

The vast majority of Sprint’s mobile broadband network has been upgraded to EV-DO Rev. A technology, and Sprint’s Rev. A network, combined with Rev. A. roaming service on Alltel’s network, currently reaches 242 million people, the company said.

 With EV-DO Rev. A, peak download data rates increase to 3.1 Mbps, with peak uplink data rates increasing to 1.8 Mbps. Average downlink throughput increases to 600kbps to 1.4Mbps from EV-DO’s average 400kbps to 700kbps, Sprint said. Rev. A uplink speeds increase to 350kbps to 500kbps from EV-DO’s 50kbps to 70kbps.