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3G telecoms in the red

Intel vice-president Hans Geyer last week stunned the mobile telecoms industry with a prediction that it could be "heading for...

Intel vice-president Hans Geyer last week stunned the mobile telecoms industry with a prediction that it could be "heading for bankruptcy before even a 3G [third-generation mobile phone] call is made"

Paul Mason

Speaking at the GSM World Congress in Cannes, Geyer told 3G technology companies to stop trying to predict the killer application for 3G and concentrate on delivering workable technology.

The viability of users' mobile commerce business plans will depend on the appropriate 3G technology being available on schedule.

But the economic slowdown and technical delays with the main 3G data standard, WCDMA, are causing concern that 3G telecoms could be stillborn.

Qualcomm, a major 3G technology supplier, warned this week that WCDMA would not deliver commercially viable services until late 2004. It urged operators to consider another 3G standard, CDMA2000.

Anil Kripalani, senior vice president at Qualcomm acknowledged that most telecoms operators in Europe had signed up for WCDMA but said the need to generate a return on huge licence outlays could make them look at CDMA2000, a cheaper technology that shares features with 2.5G networks.

"WCDMA has been a uniform position - it's difficult to break ranks. But China is going down that route. If it deploys a non-WCDMA network, then European operators would have a reference point," Kripalani said.

Handset giant Nokia insisted that it would be selling WCDMA units by mid 2002.

paul.mason@rbi.co.uk

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