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Home Page Editorial
(February 28, 2001)

From Publisher and Managing Editor's Desk... 
"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 said, we 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 prose. 

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. 

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 e-mail.


Related Resources:
Past Editorials
> News Home Page
 

 

 
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