The Future of 3G Mobile Broadband - What's in Store?

Thread Title:
3G: Where Will It Be a Year from Now?
Thread Description:

Guy Kewney takes a technical look at why 3G wireless broadband may well prove unsuitable in 2005 and how wireless broadband solutions from IP Wireless and Flarion may be able to step in and fill the gap.

It's probably time to admit it: 3G wireless is like satellite. It will never be economical as a broadband solution.

Five years is a long time to wait and now that 3G wireless is here, you'd think we'd be grateful. Not a chance of that! We want its successor on schedule, please.

The concept of 3G phone networks was originally seen as a 2001 technology. Then, after four or five years, we were supposed to start using advanced data extensions to 3G.


1.5 out of 10 in the US will use 3G by 2009

That stat is from a recent European report. Comparatively, Asian countries can expect 9 out of 10 mobile users to use 3G by 2009. Yup, there is no demand for 3G content in the US. Its gonna take some really compelling product/service to make the switch away from wires.

T-Mobile and Flarion in Germany

Looks like T-Mobile may choose Flarion for a 450mhz band in Germany. Im learning as i go on all this stuff so if you have time to put that link into simple terms Flynn it wouldn't half be appreciated :)

From what i can see is, in it's simplest explanation: Flarion and IP Wireless offer broadband solutions using different technology to '3G' that would provide (could provide) better broadband services based on what people actually want to use their phones for rather than what we thought they would want 4/5yrs ago...

sound about right?

Hey, sure, I could try to distill that link. :-)

The location where t-mobile wants to offer service was once owned by Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT). NMT operated a 450MHz cellular network. T-mobile has acquired this location and has now received regulatory approval to offer service. To offer service though it sounds like t-mobile has to deploy some new cellular hardware and upgrade some other hardware.

T-mobile has 2 main choices for hardware in this location. They could either choose to use a well known world-wide cellular industry transmission standard like CDMA or they can go with Flarion's non-standard OFMD. Both technologies are designed to convert analog networks to digital and both technologies are called "spread spectrum" technology.

The advantage of CDMA beyond the fact that it is an industry standard is that it makes an easier upgrade path to broadband data wireless like EV-DO. CDMA 450, a member of the 3G CDMA 2000 family of technologies, would be installed at this German location. CDMA 450 has data speeds approaching 2.4Mbps, trials are achieving 1.9Mbps, and CDMA 450 can support a range of services such as push-to-talk, location-based services and UIM - the GSM compatible SIM card. The downside to CDMA though is that it does not transmit data well, ie latency and propagation delays occur between signal end points.

The other option for t-mobile is Flarion's OFMD. The advantages of the lesser known OFMD is that it has a high user capacity and is resilient to interference (important so that data packets are not lost). The speeds at which OFMD can transmit data actually increases as the number of transmitting antenneas increases. OFMD outperforms 3G and can deliver up to 12Mbps with the right configuration.

So, OFMD is designed specifically for data and better suited to transmit video or the killer mobile app, email, imo. Since I am not a wireless engineer though I can not further explain why the different schemes for spreading info over different frequencies has one advantage over another. Let me know if this helps. Cheers.


Yeah, that helps a ton, thanks flynn!

So do you know what the state of play with IP Wireless and Flarion services is and how they might become standard?

It seems to me, as a relatively uneducated observer that they're better equipped to handle consumer demand for wireless broadband?


A group of 26 companies, including Britain's Vodafone Group Plc, Germany's Siemens AG, France's Alcatel and Japan's NEC Corp. and DoCoMo, will support the standard, Japan's top wireless operator said.

Mobile phone services based on the technology will offer transmission speeds more than 10 times as fast as the current third-generation (3G) service, DoCoMo said.

From reuters via techdirt who had this to say on the proposed "new" standard:

While it isn't really surprising, this is the type of thing the industry is famous for. They overhype a technology way beyond what it can do, then when people realize it really isn't that impressive, they move on to a new standard that they'll hype up for years. While there are some big players joining up to work on this project, expect it to take quite a long time for anything to actually come of it. By the time this offering reaches a commercial launch, the requirements of users are likely to have changed drastically. The competitive marketplace will also be very different. So, before people go off and declare this new, completely imaginary standard to be the wireless broadband technology of the future, it might make sense to wait a few years and see how far it's really progressed.

I use 3G and love it

I'm using 3G in Germany since more than a month now and I have to admit that I really like it.
I can surf the web while taking the train to the airport or being at a client. I even used it last week when I was in a traffic jam for 30 minutes.
The speed of 384 kbit/s that Vodafone currently provides is really fast enough to work as usual. The only problem is the latency which makes it a bit hard to use SSH, but otherwise I love it.

State of IP Wireless?

Good question, I don't know the answer though. Where I am located in Upstate NY about an south of me in late 2001 there was a trial of Flarion's 450MHz IP wireless system but since then I really have not heard much about it.

Thomas, 3g, cool. The high latency, is it a CDMA network? Just curious.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.