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Winning the race

What does Mobile Internet mean to the users and industry more speed, more security, more knowledge and more revenues.

It's a mistake to imagine that tomorrow's third generation services will be based around the same kind of browsing behavior that characterizes fixed-line web access.

When it comes to third generation mobile, success will be all about speed. Speed of connection, certainly; but also speed of rollout, speed of application and development, and speed of customer service.

But simply being first to market won't be enough to win the third generation race. In the face of fierce competition for ownership of the customer's handset, operators will need to work hard to develop and deliver world class service, anticipating the applications their customers want and ensuring those applications are reliable and accessible, where and when they're needed.

The growing popularity of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) has seen mobile Internet already begin to make its mark on the way people work and play. But it's a mistake to imagine that tomorrow's third generation services will be based around the same kind of browsing behavior that characterizes fixed-line web access.

Life management
Instead, mobile Internet subscribers will use their handsets to gain rapid access to personalized content, make transactions, conduct business, hook up family and friends, play games, be entertained, and listen to and download music and video. In essence, the mobile Internet will be about helping people better manage their lives and win back time to do the things they want to do.

In this brave new wireless world, existing competencies in Internet service delivery will be no guarantee of success. So with mobility now driving today's telecoms markets, there's a push for operators to identify, develop and partner with companies with whom they can develop and share new skill sets.

Intricacies of mobility
When the smoke clears, the successful operators will be those who've grappled with and mastered the intricacies of mobility, IP and end-to-end service delivery, while at the same time staying in close touch with rapid developments in user expectations.

Crucially for mobile operators, third generation will mark the first time uptake and will be driven by services, not technology. While voice has ruled the airways in the first and second generation, systems will be the staging ground for an explosion in mobile data traffic. While a great deal of personal and business use will undoubtedly continue to rely on voice contact, increasingly, images, music and video will become integral parts of a much richer user experience.

The high data rate capabilities of third generation will precipitate rapid growth in new applications - a veritable third generation hyper market of exciting, feature-rich services which will, in turn, create a wealth of revenue streams for operators.

At the same time, new software technologies like Java, Real Player, Bluetooth, Symbian, XML and others will be tightly integrated into next-generation terminals and networks.

This time around, there may be single killer applications that drive third generation uptake. Instead, we'll see the emergence of thousands of specialized services some global, others local accessed by millions of users on a daily basis.

While a cost efficient, reliable, high-capacity network will be essential to a prosperous third generation business, it will not, in itself, attract new subscribers or increase revenues. Some mobile industry players such as Nokia's early trials in packet radio - the first step towards true third generation networks demonstrates that expertise in both mobile and IP service provision will be key to achieving fast, effective application development, rapid revenue growth and substantial cost reductions in tomorrow's third generation market.

Location specific information
With millions of users generating billions of mobile data transactions every day, competitive advantage in third generation will be closely linked to applications that build on mobility and location-specific information.

Mobile network's unique knowledge of each and every user's whereabouts will become an important factor in service differentiation, and savvy operators will work fast to develop products that elegantly exploit this handy feature.

Making the most of third generation revenue potential will also mean fast service creation so fast that operators will need to structure operations to cope with the launch of new services on almost a daily basis. A service creation and execution platform based on Open Service Architecture (OSA) as defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) will serve as a fundamental component of this rapid, flexible development capability.

In a highly competitive third generation market, fortune will favor operators who target growth in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) through bold service creation strategies.

Eventually, it is with the right approach and right partners, that the third generation mobile operators will have the potential to increase ARPU by as much as 100 per cent.

Cost reductions, meanwhile, will be achieved through third generation's higher capacity air interference; the use of (IP) as the default protocol; decentralized network architecture based on Internet server technology; and features such as Smart Radio, a new concept that can improve system capacity by up to 75 per cent, while at the same time reducing the number of base station sites by almost one third.

As data gradually takes over from voice as the dominant network traffic, reliability on mobile networks will become more important than ever before. Always-on connections and applications with low failure thresholds, like streaming audio and video, will quickly impact on end-user service expectations, with capacity, reliability and security becoming important differentiating factors for operators.

Early experience with Internet-based services indicates that winning consumer confidence in a third generation environment will hinge on totally secure networks providing trusted services and 100 per cent reliable transactions. This need for security is another reason for the widespread support for the new Internet protocol, IPv6, which not only meets explosive demand for new IP addresses, but also adds a vital layer of embedded security protocols.

Initially, at least, the most common way of accessing third generation services will be through an integrated dual-mode terminal capable of supporting the Internet, new and existing applications, advanced IP-based services, and a range of open industry standards.

Multimedia Messaging
Messaging already a highly popular application on second-generation networks will remain a key revenue generating service in the third generation world. But thanks to the high throughput supported by third generation technology, we'll see a gradual evolution from today's Short Message Service (SMS) to 3GPP defined Multimedia Messaging, allowing users to enrich their messages with digital images and video in addition to audio clips.

At the same time, technologies like Java, WAP and Bluetooth will underpin the development of innovative third-party applications designed to meet end-to-end service needs and exploit the exciting potential third generation offers.

With mobility now an integral part of most offices, there's already clear demand for new business applications, as well as lifestyle and fun products and consumer e-commerce services. For operators of mobile networks, that all adds up to an enormous potential for lucrative new revenue channels. It is estimated that sales over mobiles will account for as much as 20 per cent of online book purchases approximately 400 million sterling pounds in revenues - within the next three years. Assuming a standard five per cent transaction fee, it translates into a massive 20 million pounds per annum for mobile portals and operators.

Today's mobile terminal has already become an indispensable lifestyle accessory. Third generation technology represents the stepping stone that will transform that lifestyle accessory into a 24-hour, multi-tasking device as familiar and as essential as our keys or wallets.

For operators, the advent of mobile Internet heralds a demanding new world. A world where the emphasis will be on more: more knowledge, more speed, more openness, more trust, more security, and more business partnerships. Happily, it's also a world with enormous potential for winning new customers, expanding into new service realms, and creating lucrative new sources of revenue.

Smart operators need to gear-up now if they hope to win the race to third generation. NM
Information Courtesy: Nokia

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