(February 28, 2001)
Publisher and Managing Editor's
"Palm's CEO Carl Yankowski started a controversy at
Cannes GSM Congress held recently, saying that 3G is over hyped and we
really do not need 3G for wireless Internet
applications to take off. We agree with his first comment that 3G is over
hyped. If his real intent was to start a debate on deeper
analysis of 3G plans, he was well-intentioned. On the other hand, if he
really meant in the second part of his statement what he is reported to have
would say, it is a short-sighted and parochial comment. Carl,
excuse us if we are misquoting you - we are only commenting on
widely-circulated reports. To tell you the truth, we were not there at
Cannes. We like to sit on the side lines, observe the news unfold and after
digesting it, we must put forward our comments and advisory on
this and other important issues. We shall do so in bullet form (like most consultants
and our website subscribers think), not in long trade journalistic
We strongly believe that you do
need 3G soon - the sooner we plan for it, design it and implement it, the
better it is for the industry. We have only finite capacity in 2G. A bit
more will be available in 2.5G where they have plans for it but we need
3G and then 4G - all in due course. Therefore, talk of not needing future
networks is irresponsible.
We do not need to go to 3G
by skipping 2.5G and by abandoning 2G. Therefore, we should follow an
evolutionary growth path to attain higher speed and capacity. This means
2G to 2.5G (GPRS, EDGE, etc.) and then to 3G. See
3G on Hot Topics pages.
3G infrastructure costs for
nation-wide networks in North America ad Europe will be huge.
Already, the investors and purse string watchers among network carriers are
having doubts on getting quick return on 3G auction and implementation
costs. They may delay some of the 3G projects in less populated areas
and go for interim solutions. Then we may have a mish-mash of different
networks and spotty coverage. Our desire to have standardization in
wireless networks in North America will suffer.
Payback period for 3G
networks will be longer than most carriers would like. This will be
particularly difficult in north America. We do have a strong competition
from fixed networks here. Does this mean that carriers should delay 3G
investment? Not necessarily but carriers develop a network migration
plan that meets the needs of current set of applications by optimized
data flow, smarter software dialogues and reserving multi-media to only
those applications where users are willing to pay the price. Carriers
should go for mass adoption by keeping prices low.
Europe and Asia will
continue to have a distinct advantage in mobile applications. Will this
lead to North America loosing its edge in e-business and Internet
applications? We are afraid the answer is yes, at least in the Wireless
Internet arena. On the other hand, most of this usage is going to come
by way of trivial personal and consumer m-commerce applications. North Americans
already have enough entertainment at home and outside - though not in a mobile
setting. However, we have a suspicion that enterprise wireless applications
are getting a lot of focus in Europe as compared to Europe. We would
like our European subscribers to comment on our observations.
We should not delay
implementation of mobile applications until we get 3G. We should use
existing 2G networks for mission-critical mobile applications by
optimizing bandwidth, by using frugal information flow, avoid exotic
graphics and multimedia because they add only small incremental
value. Remember 80-20 rule - you get 80% improvement by automating
20% of the processes and giving mobile workers 20% most important
information. Intelligent human beings can and will make better decisions
if they have the basic (20%) information to support their decisions.
Rest of the information has marginal value. In this respect, Carl
Yankowski of Palm is right. Text-based interactive transactions have
been used for the past 20 years in pre-Internet period very effectively.
So why can't we do it now.
We feel that the
industry needs to attack the problem of bandwidth optimization in a number
of ways that do not obviate critical need for higher speed, greater capacity
and convergence towards network standardization that we really need and 3G
promises. We do need 3G but 3G is highly hyped, will take longer to become
widespread standard and is not the panacea. We must move to use our (2G,
2.5G and 3G) bandwidth more efficiently, develop smarter applications with
real value proposition to users, manage customer expectations and accept
longer payback period.
We (enterprises and wireless
carriers alike) should explore bandwidth optimization technologies from
companies like BlueKite, Speedwise, Fourelle, Net2Wireless and Flash
Networks as an ongoing discipline in utilizing wireless networks. We
must conserve and use efficiently what we have - even when we have more
of it. For foreseeable future, speed will be less than what we want and
overall demand will exceed supply. Carriers may disagree with us but
slow speed of adoption is due to a number of other reasons. Go to BlueKite
interview on our site to learn more.
Finally we must manage
mobile users' expectations - wireless Internet is not wireline cable
modem or xDSL Internet. Please do not go by wireless wishful enthusiasts
- who do not understand that human activity is different when you are
stationary and when you are mobile. Human beings are not perpetual
motion machines. We need both modes - stationary and mobile and we must
offer unique experiences for each mode.
Wait and come back for more
detailed guidance on this controversy by coming back to this site when
we complete our analysis and crystallize our advisory comments on
3G. We thought we would give you heads up comments as folks at
Palm raise the issue.
Do you want to make any comments
on this editorial? Send us an