3G - When will it be a Reality?
- When will it be a Reality?
By Daniel Cheung
Right now, everyone is talking
about how 3G technology will make m-commerce flourish. M-commerce is happening
right here and now in the 2G environment, and before fully-fledged launch of
3G technology, there are several technologies that will act as "stepping
stones" towards 3G telephony - and they are not all based on GSM.
has already released cell phones with 3G capabilities in Japan, as seen
in the above picture of the KX-FE841 model.
So what is all the fuss
about? According to proponents of 3G telephony (or UMTS as it is more commonly
referred to in Europe) this high-speed wireless communications technology is
all-powerful. UMTS promises to deliver not just voice telephony but more importantly
multi-media, high-speed data and even real-time video images to our futuristic
large screen handsets when we are on the move. Sounds great doesn't it? Think
of the m-commerce possibilities; we could view the products from all angles
in real time on the screen of the mobile phone before we actually purchase it
by completing a secure credit card transaction from the same phone!
However, do not get overexcited
just yet. Most industry analysts believe that, although UMTS promises bit rates
of up to 2Mbps, the actual speed will be between 144kbps and 380 kbps. Although
this is also great, such networks are not expected to become commercially available
until 2003 or later in Australia.
is the UMTS model?
(Universal Mobile Telephone Service) is a Third Generation (3G) mobile
system being developed by ETSI™ within the ITU’s IMT-2000 framework. It
will provide data speeds of up to 2 Mbps, making portable videophones
a reality. It is not the only
has the support of many major European telecommunications operators and
manufacturers because it represents a unique opportunity to create a mass
market for highly personalised and user friendly mobile access to the
seeks to build on and extend the capability of todays mobile, cordless
and satellite technologies by providing increased capacity, data capability
and a far greater range of services using an innovative radio access scheme
and an enhanced, evolving core network.
Present Wireless Technology
At the moment, Australia
is still firmly rooted in the use of GSM and CDMA networks. Most m-commerce
initiatives today, are being utilised over regular second generation (2G) GSM
networks (first generation was the old analogue cellular system). GSM today
offers bit rates of up to 9.6 kbps. Even the old standard SMS (short message
service) on GSM has a role to play. In the past, the main use of SMS was to
alert users to awaiting voicemail messages. Today, SMS is the basis for a host
of value added services enabling subscribers to access email, business and entertainment
services and has become an important technology for implementing m-commerce
services. The limit of 145 characters is overcome by stringing together into
a chain as many SMS messages as are needed for the transaction.
In a sense, Australia is
waiting for the major economies of the world to make up their minds about what
wireless technologies to adopt before making any such investments. In Japan,
the success of iMode as a 3G technology seems to be an ideal platform for Australia
to follow. However, one factor that will hinder the adoption of iMode in Australia
is that, unlike Japan (with the near-monopoly of NTT DoCoMo), there are several
competitors that have their competing networks.
In the United States, the
players in the wireless market are grappling with several technologies. Europe,
on the other hand, have boldly embarked on the road to a UMTS-based wireless
future. Currently, most European countries have already run bids for 3G / UMTS
licences for bandwidths. Australia finds itself in a similar position right
now, with companies starting to bid for 3G bandwidths in January 2001.
Much time has passed since our original megapixel camera phone comparison article of late 2004, and manufacturers have had the opportunity to improve the...