Hot Topics In The Mobile Computing Industry
3rd Generation Wireless Networks
A new breed of wireless networks
with higher speed and capacity than 2G that are being planned,
designed and deployed in different countries now (2002). These networks
- are in higher frequency band (2 GHz and
beyond) with larger bandwidth (around 5 MHZ) than 2G
- will provide higher speeds up to 2 Mbps in a fixed or stationary wireless
environment and at 384 Kbps in a mobile environment.
- hope to converge towards one international standard for 3G.
This is unlikely to be fulfilled soon because of vendors' self interests,
existing infrastructure dependencies and migration steps like 2.5G
GSM/GPRS, 1xRTT CDMA, Edge, etc. before a common UMTS network becomes
Topics Related to 3G Evolution:
EDGE Enhanced Data rates for GSM
Data rates for Global Evolution (EDGE) is a radio based high-speed mobile
data standard. It allows data transmission speeds of 384 kbps to be achieved
when all eight timeslots are used..
was initially developed (by Ericsson) for mobile network operators who fail
to win Universal Mobile Telephone System (UMTS) spectrum. EDGE gives GSM
operators the opportunity to offer data services at speeds that are near to
those available on UMTS networks.
can also provide an evolutionary migration path from GPRS to UMTS by
implementing now the changes in modulation that will be necessary for
implementing UMTS later. The idea behind EDGE is to get higher data rates on
the current 200 kHz GSM radio carrier by changing the type of modulation
used, whilst still working with current circuit (and packet) switches.
- TDMA Edge - North American version of
European GSM Edge initiative - an interim step for TDMA IS-136 networks before 3G - same
principles of band but on a different band, different network infrastructure
and different modulation technique
2000 - North America's other offering in answer to Europe's 3G UMTS
standard - a rather simplistic
explanation. cdma2000 is a 3G technology that increases data transmission
rates in CDMA systems. cdma2000 has been renamed the 1x Multi-Carrier mode
(1x MC), which provides a 307 Kbps data rate in the ITU's 3G specification.
The ITU 3G specification also includes a 3x Multi-Carrier mode (3xMC) at 2
Mbps as well as W-CDMA, the 3G path intended for GSM carriers in Europe and
Japan to upgrade to 3G CDMA (Source - TechWeb definition)
- GPRS -
General Packet Radio Service - another interim step towards 3rd Generation
- High Speed Circuit Switched Data - an interim step that gives 38.4
Kbps wireless speed
- Universal Mobile Telephone System - 3G GSM standard
primarily in Europe - UMTS is the standard for delivering 3G services being
developed under the auspices of ETSI. It builds on GSM standard for
increasing the speed and capacity by increasing the carrier bandwidth in a
slightly different band. With Europe already committed on long term basis
and North America reluctantly and grudgingly moving forward along with
competitive standards. It offers the prospect of a truly global wireless
standard for personal multimedia communications.
- WCDMA - Wide CDMA - See
Evolution From 2G to 3G
Following scenarios are most likely:
- Current 2G GSM networks ---->Wideband CDMA
(W-CDMA) for 3G
- Current TDMA networks (e.g. AT&T's TDMA
network) -----> W-CDMA
- IS-95 (Non-Wideband CDMA) ----> cdma2000
Pressures from the market and user organization
will lead to interoperation between W-CDMA and cdma2000 networks. However
vendors and network carriers will posture and shout for the superiority of
their respective technologies. Ideally we should have one standard and one
network technology that is superior but that is asking for an ideal business
world. We urge user organizations to exert their natural right to force
carriers to build one logical 3G network with roaming and interoperability
even if this network consists of multiple physical networks.
Status Of 3G Network Plans in North America
(January 2002) -
3G GSM Trials by Microcell - a wireless network service provider in Canada is
piloting a 3G network in Montreal now (1999-2000). Go
to MobileInfo.Com's interview with Microcell Network Planning executives
on the status and findings from this trial.
MobileInfo.com Advisory: We would like to make
following comments on 3G networks:
3G networks, when fully implemented (2 to 5 years), will move mobile computing to a
new level of performance and capacity. Meanwhile, wireless applications should be
implemented carefully. Choose your communications middleware vendor who
will allow you to migrate to future networks without application-level
changes. Continue to invest in optimizing your wireless network traffic.
approximately 25-38 Kbps with GPRS or faster speed with 1xRTT CDMA
alternative is more than adequate speed for well-designed transaction-based applications.
These interim 2.5G networks can be, in fact, good enough for many optimized multi-media
applications where use of graphics is to enhance the current wireless data
application user interface. Rich multi-media applications will be affordable
in terms of capacity and price only in future.
For a reliable production-level national footprint, 3G networks will
take longer than industry forecasts. There is significant market
development work, business case work for huge investments required and
finally engineering work for implementing networks. Each step takes
time. First you will see GPRS or Edge in GSM sector. CDMA 1xRTT
(Qualcomm technology) that provides higher spectral efficiency is being
implemented by a number of carriers in USA and Europe. By 2003-2005 timeframe,
you will see 3G coverage only in high-population areas.
There is still lack of uniform standards and differences in
technologies being employed especially in North America. User organizations should plan for using the capacity of future
wireless networks only after detailed analysis of service provider’s
network implementation plans, planned coverage and agreements with other
network operators to provide national coverage under one umbrella. Perhaps hybrid network
strategy is your best bet. No single network technology or operator will meet all
your wireless network needs.
North America will continue to have multiple technologies and
standards – Europe will stay ahead for the next four years. 3G
standards will be adopted earlier in Europe and Japan before North
Wireless multi-media applications must be carefully analyzed from
business case point of view. Only selected few applications will become
affordable on projected cost structure.
However widespread use of wireless multi-media as a general-purpose
business application will stay as a target opportunity for the next
We also feel that based on queuing theory projections of similar
telecommunications systems, effective data rate will drop significantly
below 350 Kbps forecasts with large number of users per cell.
Nonetheless, 3G will bring a quantum improvement from where we are.
If you are a wireless network provider, do plan for these networks
They are going to happen as fast as network service providers can roll
them out. If you do not do it, your competitor will do it.
If you are a network service provider, price these wireless data
services (2.5 G and 3G) low and breakeven period longer. You should be
in it for the long haul. Please keep in mind what happened to Iridium.
If you are in an end user organization, develop your applications
carefully - optimize data stream, user interface, transaction flow,
minimize multi-media, allow for wireless network interruptions,
disconnected mode, and persistent transaction recovery. Put your
best design team on wireless application - it is not a piece of cake as
some would have you believe.
More Resources on 3G Related Topics