Thought for the day: Will 3G ever arrive?

We have to offer dramatic, fresh applications for 3G, otherwise the technology will become an expensive failure, says Warren...

We have to offer dramatic, fresh applications for 3G, otherwise the technology will become an expensive failure, says Warren Saunders, a telecoms business manager.The media has been up in arms again this week over further delays to Hutchison's 3G offering as the company fails to get over the hurdles of launching the much-promised technology. This begs the question, is 3G ever really going to happen?

Operators have invested vast sums of money in 3G licences to enable them to provide next-generation mobile services. This latest news from Hutchison 3G can only increase market scepticism over if and when the technology will be ready.

Cynics of the mobile Internet technology see 3G as little more than the return of WAP, only faster and, possibly, in colour. This shows a lack of imagination. With 3G, home and car alarms, for example, would be able to send streaming video to you as soon as there is a break-in, allowing action to be taken quickly or the alarm to be turned off remotely if it is a false alarm. For this to work, a number of businesses will need to co-operate in an extended supply chain.

Since everyone in that chain (including the operator) has their own defined idea of what the standard really means, there is an awful lot of negotiation to be done. Each business in the chain is pioneering a new technology. The challenge is to make them all compatible, which further complicates the process of getting 3G on its feet.

The variables involved in creating a 3G platform to interoperate with the existing infrastructure are doubtless keeping telecoms executives awake at night. They are throwing more money at a problem when no one is quite sure what the solution is.

However, what is certain is that 3G will work, and it will deliver, because the industry has no choice but to make it a success. 3G won't change the world, but it does signify a cornerstone in the developing mobile world.

The possibilities are as vast as the potential rewards and, as is often the way (SMS, for example), success will come from the strangest places.

For the user this can only be beneficial, as operators fight for your business and give you more and more reasons to upgrade to the next generation. New services will be launched at attractive prices, and quality of service will be uppermost in the operators' minds.

They can't afford another WAP, and the stakes are much higher - for the user, this has to mean better services, well delivered and sensibly priced.

What is your view?
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Warren Saunders is business manager at Anite Telecoms.

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