Wireless manufacturer Nokia yesterday announced that the U.S. Army has awarded the company a contract to build a WCDMA 3G/HSDPA network that will be used to evaluate potential defense applications using the wireless technologies.

“This particular system is an off-the-shelf system provided to this Army lab, so they can evaluate the capabilities and look at applying this commercial technology to their needs,” said Robert Fennelly, Nokia’s director of government systems.

A giant in the commercial wireless arena, Nokia established its government arm just two years ago. This contract is one of three research-oriented arrangements the wireless vendor has with U.S. federal government agencies.

“The federal government is purchasing a lot of proprietary systems, utilizing traditional, proprietary technologies,” Fennelly said. “Maybe we can offer a standardized, commercial solution that potentially could open up new doors in terms of structure and capabilities.”

While most of its current government-oriented activities have focused on federal contracts, Nokia is open to the notion of pursuing opportunities at the state and local levels in the future, Fennelly said. Positive feedback from these government research projects would help the cause.

“We’re already seen encouraging signs that this is certainly a usable technology,” Fennelly said. “These are the beginning of long-term relationships with these organizations. We hope to continue to provide the latest technology and hope to grow them into full-scale projects.”