Friday, July 20, 2007

3G: It's Not A Breakfast Cereal - It's The Future Of Cellular Technology So Let's Clear Up The Technobabble!

Cellular phones have allowed us to talk on the move. The internet turned raw data into helpful services that people found easy to use. Now, these two technologies are converging to create third generation mobile services. In simple terms, third generation (3G) services combine high speed mobile access with Internet Protocol (IP)-based services. But this doesn’t just mean fast mobile connection to the world wide web. Rather, whole new ways to communicate, access information, conduct business, learn and be entertained - liberated from slow, cumbersome equipment and immovable points of access. With access to any service anywhere, anytime, from one terminal, the old boundaries between communication, information, media and entertainment will disappear. Services will truly converge. We'll be bitching about those people texting while driving even more!

3G is an ITU specification for the third generation (analog cellular was the first generation, digital PCS the second) of mobile communications technology. 3G promises increased bandwidth, up to 384 Kbps when a device is stationary or moving at pedestrian speed, 128 Kbps in a car, and 2 Mbps in fixed applications. 3G will work over wireless air interfaces such as GSM, TDMA, and CDMA. The new EDGE air interface has been developed specifically to meet the bandwidth needs of 3G.

"Mobility" will be offered with many services that we currently regard as "fixed". Mobile operators believes that mobility will become the norm for many communication services. And we aren't talking about those people tooling around our shopping malls in scooters! We’ll be able to make video calls to the office and surf the internet, or play interactive games with friends at home - wherever we may be. 3G enables users to transmit voice, data, and even moving images. By the year 2000 we will have between 600 – 800 million mobile phone users around the world. Increasingly those users will want services that are not offered today, and the option of wireless access for applications, such as accessing a corporate LAN, using the Internet or Intranets, videoconferencing and sending and receiving high quality pictures ie data communications. Before this can happen, the capabilities of wireless networks in terms of bandwidth must be improved.

With phones like Apple's new iphone changing the face of the wireless world, there is a need for speed. That's where 3G really comes in and many of the techno-geeks out there want Apple's next generation to support this new high-speed technology. The question of 3G deployment is not a technical issue, but a regulatory and economic one. Subscriber demand is the key factor: user expectations for mobile services are being raised, and for any successful 3G license bidder time to market will be critical. The way 3G is rolled out in a particular market will depend entirely on the business plans of the mobile operators, and the license requirements imposed by the regulatory authorities. And you can be sure as hell that it's gonna cost you some bucks!

We're likely to see 3G services enter our day -to-day lives in all sorts of new ways. For example, in shopping, especially Internet "mail order" (e-commerce), banking, or playing interactive computer games over the Net. We'll think nothing of driving on the 405-freeway and using a mobile phone with Internet browser to log into our bank accounts. While on-line we'll be able to check our accounts, pay a few bills and click on a screen icon to immediately set up a video-conference to discuss our account with a bank clerk. On vacation, we'll be able to use our mobile palmtops to obtain local tour guides, make a last-minute reservation at a hotel, find and call the nearest taxi firm, and send video postcards. Appliances will have built-in radio modems to provide remote control and diagnostics. Our refrigerators will have built-in sensors that detect which items need restocking and automatically send a reminder message to our Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). We could even get the refrigerator to send an order direct to our local store. Yo Ralphs...I need more Corona's...NOW!

So how do the current technologies and the new technologies compare? Here's a quick overview of what each has to offer:

2G Wireless is the technology of most current digital mobile phones. Features include Phone calls, Voice mail, and to Receive simple email message. The Speed is10kb/sec which means that the time to download a 3min MP3 song is about 31-41 minutes. That sucks.

2.5G Wireless is the best technology now widely available whose features include Phone calls/faxes, voice mail, send/receive large email messages, web browsings, and navigation/maps. The top speed of 2.5G is 64-144kb/sec which means that to download a 3min MP3 song would take 6-9 minutes. Not bad. But it could get better!

Now comes 3G Wireless. 3G combines a mobile phone, laptop PC and TV into one unit. Some of the things that it will offer include phone calls/fax, global roaming, send/receive large email messages, high-speed Web, navigation/maps, videoconferencing, electronic agenda meeting reminders and TV streaming. With a speed of 144kb/sec-2mb/sec you could download a 3min MP3 song in 11sec-1.5 minutes. Now there we go. We're getting blazin' now.

3G is available on a limited basis here in the US. Helio, a joint venture between SK Telecom and the US based ISP, EarthLink, have launched what it says is first dual-slider combining a traditional numeric keypad and a separate full QWERTY keyboard in a single 3G device. Running over a nationwide high-speed 3G network, Ocean also offers full over-the-air music downloads, video-on-demand, a high-resolution camera, an HTML browser, GPS-enabled Google Maps for mobile, Buddy Beacon, first-of-its-kind full Web search from the device home screen, integration of IM presence into the address book, GPS tagging of photos and videos, MySpace on Helio and more U.S. industry firsts, all in a single, beautifully designed package. This is the first example in the future of the 3G technology.

In conclusion. the Evolution to 3G describes the updating of cellular mobile telecommunications networks around the world to use new 3G technologies. This process is taking place over the next few years and should be fully implemented by 2010. Japan, of course, is the first country having introduced 3G nationally, and in Japan the transition to 3G was largely completed during 2006. Isn't that typical? Japan always gets the hottest technology long before we do?

Hello?! Verizon? Nextel? AT&T? Wake up you idiots. The time is now. We've got the need for speed!