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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

The Second Coming

Monday, July 31, 2006

The story of 3G till now has been a dismal one. It all started with the phenomal success of the WCDMA service introduced by DoCoMo of Japan. It was huge hit amongst it subscribers initially and was a pre standard version of UMTS. That lead to a wild hype about the market potential of 3G UMTS and the spectrum auctions in Europe saw Telcos. bidding astronomical sums for the licenses. Together it raised around 129 Billion USD!

Then came the 2000 slump. The Dot Com bust also had a huge effect on the Telecom Infrastructure comapnies and the Telco's themselves. That delayed the launch of 3G services to late 2004 and since then the 3G has not been the money spinner that everyone had predicted. Things have come to a pass now and some operators have given up on deploying 3G completely. Others have initiated legal actions against the Telecom Regulators to recover their investments.

Several of the hyped up services, like video calling and broadband speeds were non starter's from the begining; not as popular as in Japan. But according to Vodafone, Mobile TV has been showing a lot of promise lately. Several trials of Mobile TV have been completed and have reported encouraging results. The recent World Cup matches were a big hit.

In the meantime technologies like WiFi and WiMAX have also appeared on the scene and are threating 3G services directly. Mobile WiMAX is being marketed as the 3G killer with it superior performance and range. The hype machines have been working overtime on it. The Internet based free VoIP services have also seen a resseruction of sorts. Skype rode the wave with immaculate timing and its popularity is being seen as threat to the Telcos.

Still the Asian Operators are looking optimistically at 3G UMTS. They regulators have learnt from the mistakes and have refrained from auctioning the spectrum. That has kept the plans inexpnsive and the Operators themselves are billing 3G as an incremental update rather than the a vastly superior technology (which ironically it is!). The technology itself has matured over time and the equipment costs have come down. The handsets have become more sexier and are already attracting users to it.

There are hopes now that 3G will redeem itself in Aisa; the place it had started off from.

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posted by Rajiv, 11:07 AM


Just today, I read somewhere that some big cellphone companies, including Nokia, are thinking of Mobile WiMAX as complementary to 3G and are hence interested in both. Don't know much detail about it though.
Said Blogger Amit Saha, 8:40 AM  

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