Roaming broadband: Qualcomm's MEA 3G plans

Qualcomm’s Pertti Johansson on how 3G technologies are set to deliver a new level of mobile broadband.

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By  Administrator Published  July 24, 2008

Pertti Johansson, Qualcomm’s president for the MEA region, explains how 3G technologies and their evolutions are set to deliver a new level of mobile broadband.

Economic principles explain the success of 3G and foreshadow its dominant role in providing mobile broadband to billions of users. The demand for voice communication and the availability of increasingly affordable technologies and services have led to an enormous installed base of global subscribers.

The large, mature 3G ecosystem of operators, vendors, and developers has sufficient scale to deliver economical mobile broadband. As exemplified by the plethora of mobile, nomadic and fixed broadband services offered by operators today, 3G enables all IP-based applications in its current incarnations.

Furthermore, 3G technologies provide strong evolution paths - EV-DO Rev B and HSPA+, followed by OFDMA-based technologies, will deliver even greater performance and leverage wider blocks of spectrum.

3G technologies and their evolutions are poised to deliver increasingly affordable mobile broadband services to an eager global population.

Mobile phones have profoundly transformed the way we live in most parts of the world today. A mere 20 years since the introduction of the cell phone, the ability to engage in conversation anytime, anywhere has escalated from a desire to an expectation. Making a timely phone call is no longer a luxury, but often a necessity.

While most of us today are not as overzealous about our data as we are about our conversations, timely access to information is just as indispensable to our personal and work lives.

Cellular voice adoption has been strong, and is still accelerating in parts of the world where phone lines are unavailable to most of the population.

Not only has cellular-network coverage grown dramatically, but the underlying technologies have also evolved to carry data as efficiently as voice. 3G provides mobile broadband performance in a wireless environment, with peak rates attaining multiple Mbps.

Many operators already are offering music, pictures, video, and Internet access over 3G networks today.

Regardless of technology, the law of supply and demand is as important in wireless economics as it is in other disciplines. Growing demand for mobile data is giving rise to a variety of mobile broadband services.

Simply stated: We are increasingly mobile. People understand and value the freedom to communicate when and where they choose. We want more data, and at higher speeds.

As computers and consumer devices consume and generate increasingly rich content, the amount of data being shuttled over networks is rising rapidly.

Many players are motivated to offer services. Dominant companies in industries that are approaching market saturation are eagerly seeking growth opportunities elsewhere. Expansion into wireless is a popular strategy, not least because the scale is so significant.

Technologies are available to enable these services. 3G provides a broad range of cost-effective options for operators to differentiate themselves; they can deliver a full complement of voice and data services over networks with performance comparable to cable/DSL.

Voice is still the primary source of mobile revenue, and an excellent base from which to introduce additional revenue streams. 3G technologies provide ample data capacity at broadband speeds, and present a low-risk platform for operators to introduce new data services in response to demand.

They also provide an evolution path to all-data networks where VoIP will allow both low-cost best-effort and high-quality QoS-based voice services.

As operators evaluate options for rolling out wireless data services, they carefully assess each competing technology's potential to maximise revenue while minimising cost. 3G technologies allow operators to maximise revenue, because they enable a full range of large-scale voice and data services.

These technologies also efficiently support fixed, nomadic, pedestrian and mobile use. 3G operators are successfully providing a wide variety of mobile data services and open Internet access today.

3G has the scale to drive down the cost of a wide range of devices-from mobile phones, data cards, and embedded laptops today, to wireless consumer electronics devices in the future.

3G networks provide both the capacity and coverage to minimise the number of sites needed when compared with other technologies, while offering high data rates and excellent user experience.

Spectral efficiency matters, because most operators have limited spectrum with which to serve broadband customers. 3G technologies require less spectrum than competing technologies, because all cells/sectors can use the same channel frequency.

For existing operators, leveraging past investments as much as possible is an important component of minimising cost. Building out new networks, duplicating coverage, and replacing devices are expensive propositions.

The rapid proliferation of 3G reflects the advantages of cost-effective upgrades to deployed networks.

Pervasive coverage and long depreciation cycles imply that 3G networks will persist for many years; new technologies deployed for additional capacity will likely only provide coverage where it makes sense.

Coverage limitations also imply that new broadband technologies, in order to provide effective mobile services, will likely require multimode devices that also support 3G.

An important factor affecting a technology's ability to deliver mobile broadband is the health of the ecosystem to which it belongs.

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