Four possible development paths for third generation (3G) mobile network technology have been predicted in a report by industry analyst Ovum. According to the report, the success of third generation mobiles will be determined by consumer uptake and the availability of low-cost, standardised network and terminal equipment.
The report predicts that 3G will be implemented in most markets by 2006. However as full technical capabilities will not be fully available at launch in 2001, Ovum suggests network operators will need to develop a long term plan of extending existing services to drive consumer demand for data-intensive 3G services.
The four development scenarios for 3G development, predicted by Ovum are:
- Slow Growth: Slow consumer take-up of mobile data services, combined with complex and expensive network and terminal equipment, results in limited rollout of 3G technology
- 3G Upgrade: With limited consumer demand for data services, 3G networks are used to meet operational improvements and for delivering multimedia services to businesses
- 2G+ Substitution: High growth in the demand for mobile data services is frustrated by the expense and complexity of 3G hardware, resulting in a rapid take-up of 2G+ services such as GPRS, restricting migration to 3G to the business community
- Rapid Growth: Strong consumer demand for data services is met by 3G technology, with the cost to both the operator and the subscriber reduced by economies of scale.
Ovum predicts that the crucial factor in driving consumer demand will be the introduction of personalisation services from network operators and content providers. These wireless portals will, says the report, make mobile data increasingly relevant and useful to consumers. Price of handsets was also cited as an important factor in the uptake of the services.