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Wireless: Breaking Communications Barriers
year 2000 had varied connotations in the world of Information
Technology. In the mobile world, however, it is widely recognized
as the year, which introduced data to augment voice. While
voice is and will continue to be a major market driver, data
applications are now increasingly becoming prevalent in the
wireless world. Business users and consumers alike realize
the need for conducting daily tasks anytime-anywhere.
the mobile operators, data presents an opportunity to distinguish
their service offering in the highly competitive and ever
consolidating industry and to ultimately increase the bottom
line in the face of declining revenue generated from voice.
second-generation (2G) wireless standards, while providing
the necessary bandwidth for basic data applications, are not
adequate for bandwidth-intensive applications. Third-generation
(3G) networks will ensure seamless convergence of wireless
technology and the Internet. 3G is geared towards ensuring
parity in the wireless and wire-line data world. It will bring
with it the ability to accomplish tasks that were until now
limited to the fixed world.
analysts have varied estimates about the timeframe when wireless
Internet users will outgrow wire-line Internet users, with
the general prediction being within the 2003-04 timeframe.
However, the underlying theme is 'when' and not 'if' this
transformation will occur.
mobile operators are currently conducting 3G trials, with
Europe and Asia Pacific are taking lead. Leading Japanese
mobile operators, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, have the head start
in Asia due primarily to the current capacity constraints
of NTT's PDC technology and the widespread adoption of wireless
Today there is much publicity on the auctioning of 3G licenses
in various countries with the focus primarily on the exorbitant
price paid by operators to acquire these licenses. The validity
of the business case is being questioned, as is the ability
of the operators to realize positive return on their investment
in the near term. There is confusion as to when the license
winners will invest in 3G infrastructure and launch services,
given the high up-front cost incurred. We believe that the
steep license price will drive operators to launch the 3G
service concurrent with the technology becoming available.
The higher throughput available on the 3G network will enable
operators to provide value-added services and applications
such as video-on-demand, unified messaging, mobile commerce,
etc. with the intent of reducing churn and increasing revenue.
Stemming churn, especially in markets with high penetration
rates, is a major objective for most operators today.
CDMA operators stand to benefit the most in the transition
from 2G to 3G since all 3G standards are based off the CDMA
technology. Not only will the migration path be relatively
seamless and the technology backward compatible, but the CDMA
operators and the vendors alike will have the relative experience
of spectrum-based technology. This should translate to additional
benefits for the cdma2000 subscribers, since the traditional
CDMA vendors and operators will be able to develop and deploy
services quicker and cheaper than their GSM and TDMA counterparts.
generation service provisioning is functioning as a catalyst
for operators with plans to launch a global expansion strategy.
Operators are establishing partnerships to allow for roaming
and sharing of networks in countries where they may lack presence.
Infrastructure investment, however, needs to be made to ensure
the service promised by third generation networks. For instance,
cell density will have to be increased to provide additional
bandwidth. New transaction-based billing methods will have
to be introduced in place of the time-based billing used today.
However, the savings generated from a packet-network will
more than negate the cost for the operator to lay the network.
the battle to own the last mile, wireless is laying its own
stakes. Acceptance of wireless as the de facto access medium
will require network and service reliability which one takes
for granted in a wire-line world. The key is to adhere to
industry standards and to ultimately allow for global roaming
while maintaining service quality. Wireless technology is
now geared to deliver more than its initial promise. However,
3G should not be perceived as an end in itself. It's the dawn
of a new era in which mobility will not be a productivity
constraint but instead will be a catalyst for developing applications
and provisioning of services that are not even envisioned
courtesy: 3 Com Inc