3G Future

The New York Times writes:

As many consumers now understand, there are two major competing cellphone technologies: the global system for mobile, or GSM, and code division multiple access, or CDMA. Cingular (which recently acquired AT&T Wireless) and T-Mobile use GSM. Verizon Wireless and Sprint use CDMA. (Nextel uses what amounts to its own proprietary system, developed with Motorola.)

Each of the major standards, GSM and CDMA, has its own set of technical tiers that allows the network to transmit larger amounts of data. For GSM carriers, the current second-generation data service is known as Edge. The CDMA counterpart is known as 1xRTT.

Cingular, Sprint and Verizon cover most of the country with their second-generation networks, and T-Mobile is working to expand its own Edge system. These technologies, whether GSM- or CDMA-based, can deliver data roughly two or three times as fast as a standard 56-kilobit dial-up modem, and are what have allowed the carriers to offer the new services of the past few years, like downloadable ring tones, text and rudimentary picture messaging and downloadable games of middling quality.

“The introduction of broadband to the wireless consumer is no less important than the arrival of broadband in the wired Internet world; we will have hundreds of video updates available every single day,” John Stratton, Verizon Wireless’s chief marketing officer, said.John C. Burris, Sprint’s director for wireless data services, pointed out that in years past carriers and manufacturers focused on trying to shoehorn a PC into a phone, rather than developing applications that respect the hand-held device on its own merits. It is that shift in emphasis, Mr. Burris predicted, that will continue to drive the emergence of advanced wireless services.

“One of the things everyone was talking about a few years ago was, ‘Ooh, you’ll be able to browse the Web on your phone,’ ” he said. “But that scenario didn’t really work for a lot of people because you had to click and wait, and on the small screen it wasn’t really ideal.

“Instead of clicking and waiting and then reading a story about, say, the tsunami, now you can just click and you’re running a video clip from CNN with full-motion video. That’s the kind of approach that we think will really appeal to people and that will continue to evolve.”

Wi-Fi Networking News comments on the article:

As applications increasingly become bandwidth dependentpodcasting and video delivery being too leading-edge trendsthe user who now might be content to spend $80 per month for ubiquitous EVDO in many major cities and can stand to wait a few minutes longer to download his or her PowerPoint presentation, well, that same user signs up for Cingulars future UTMS network along with a FreedomLink unlimited Wi-Fi plan, and, by the way, uses VoIP at home and the on road to cap long distance expenses and be reachable.

If Verizon is really looking at EVDO as a single mode delivery mechanism over which they deliver a variety of services, theyre out of step with what SBC (and Cingular, as a majority-owned partner) is telling the industry is the future: integration across DSL, Wi-FI, and cellular, with applications layered across all three modes of delivery to their customers. Customers seek the right kind of bandwidth for the application rather than stapling the application on top of the bandwidth that the firm has available.

Among other trends, Verizon is missing the VoIP train and the increasing trend for bandwidth heavy and low latency services, and those applications could trump video on a tiny screen wherever you want it.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.