Linked by David Adams on Wed 25th Sep 2002 15:53 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless The information that I could find on the web about Sprint's new '3G' high-speed data service was a little short on solid information, so I spoke with Kevin Packingham, Senior Manager of Business Marketing for SprintPCS' new Vision service. I sought him out because Ubiquitous, affordable high speed wireless data services are something of a holy grail for tech-savvy road warriors like myself, so I received each morsel of information about Sprint's new service with great interest. Mr. Packingham spoke over the phone and he clarified many of the questions that I had about the new service.
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not really 3G
by kublai on Wed 25th Sep 2002 16:08 UTC

did you ask them why they are branding it 3G when it's really not?
3G is supposed to be 2Mbps.

RE: not really 3G
by Eugenia on Wed 25th Sep 2002 16:13 UTC

Agreed, in US the 3G is really a renamed "2.5G". But everyone is reffering to it as 3G (for marketing purposes I would think), so...

They lost my interest because of their commercials.
by J on Wed 25th Sep 2002 16:26 UTC

A phone that can take pictures - cool
A phone that can play games - cool
A phone that has screensavers - HUH?

Oh boy, a horribly expensive phone with horribly expensive network pricing and a short battery life. You know what would make that *perfect*? Power draining SCREENSAVERS! YAY!!

So....
by Ken Crandall on Wed 25th Sep 2002 16:27 UTC

Is this true GSM+GPRS in the US?

Re: So....
by Xian on Wed 25th Sep 2002 16:29 UTC

Nah, it's probably more like CDMA2000 or something. Sprint uses CDMA technology.
For GSM+GPRS in the US, you need either AT&T's mMode, Cingular's GSM service, or VoiceStream/T-Mobile.

Re: Ken Crandall
by JBQ on Wed 25th Sep 2002 16:38 UTC

No, that's 1xRTT CDMA, IIRC.

JBQ

2.5G and CDMA2000
by mra on Wed 25th Sep 2002 16:48 UTC

CDMA2000 is being offered by Verizon out this way. It claims to have 144Kbps speed which is a little slower, and like 2.5G its speed drops when moving, but as far as always on internet access it's here.

I really like the idea of being able to stream DVD quality audio and video off my phone to a television. It isn't here yet, but in another year the bandwidth on these sort of mobile devices will go up and the codecs will get the data size down such that it will be possible. The reason why I like that example so much is that if you can stream a DVD then you can certainly check your email, browse the web, instant chat with your friends, or use pretty much any other client side application on the Internet today.

Misleading consumers...
by Mike Bouma on Wed 25th Sep 2002 17:00 UTC

IMO it is very sad that companies are allowed to mislead consumers with regard to the real network speeds. Currently only in Japan 3G phone services are commercially available.

NTT DoCoMo is the market leader in Japan, with over 34.6 million 2.5G i-mode users and around 140,000 3G users.

BTW the German and Dutch 2.5G/i-mode versions, currently have well over 100,000 users, with customers being extremely statisfied with this service.

i-mode has recently also been released in Taiwan by KG Telecom.

Re: Misleading consumers...
by Mike Bouma on Wed 25th Sep 2002 17:10 UTC

> statisfied with this service.

... satisfied with this service.

Dutch commercial videos:
http://www.imode.nl/imode/0,1302,2X1166,00.html
Related i-mode article at OSNews:
http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=968

Its not too misleading
by Cal on Wed 25th Sep 2002 17:40 UTC

i don't think most people who use the new network will even know what technology makes it work. 3G is being used as brand name. No one I know will go out a buy a phone/plan because it uses CDMA, GSM, 3G or 9.3G. They may on the other hand look at the literature, and go with the plan that is cheapest or maybe the fasted data speed... If I'm not making a point let me know I'll try and think of a better way to say that.

Re: Its not too misleading
by Mike Bouma on Wed 25th Sep 2002 17:52 UTC

> i don't think most people who use the new network will
> even know what technology makes it work. 3G is being
> used as brand name.

If that was true then why call it 3G at all? Anything else would be better than using this marketing name. Among the entire tech industry the term "3G" is only used for Third Generation Mobile Telecommunications. For a Tech company to use this name for something that is not a 3G technology is in my opinion very misleading.

At least in Europe the term "3G" is widely known as mobile companies have invested billions of Euros into 3G services.

ITU
by ryan on Wed 25th Sep 2002 18:19 UTC

The ITU defined 3G as having a minimum speed of 144 kbps. In that regard, Sprint Vision (based on qualcomms CDMA 1xRTT) is in fact 3G, barely but it makes it.

Reports regarding both sprint and verizon's service (they use the same tech) are that any were from 56 K to 64 K is routinely achievable.

The W-CDMA networks that Ericsson and NOkia want to monopolize the "3G" term with will likely provide no better speeds than sprint vision, or at least not much. FOMA users in japan, also a W-CDMA network. are getting 64 kbps on average. problem there is first you build the network for coverage (larger cells) and then for capacity (smaller cells). Other problem is that that magical 2 Mbps is the total capacity of one 5 MHz channel. subtract overhead and you get 986 or so kbps per second. if you don't have another radio channel then no 2 mbps of useable data. It is also SHARED capacity to get the max you'll need to sit under the base station at 3 am on a tuesday morning when no one else is using it.

Moreover, 3G vs. not 3G will be determined by consumers based on applications and sprint PCS vision will run most, if not all, of the same apps as W-CDMA.

At the end of the day fighting over whether or not cdma2000 is real 3G vs W-CDMA UMTS is silly. THEY BOTH SUCK FOR DATA. BOTH ARE OPTIMIZED FOR VOICE. BOTH COST TOO MUCH AND DELIVER TOO LITTLE.

If you want to see something that will deliver the 3G experience then check out www.flarion.com or www.broadstorm.com. These are the real deal

Another interesting note. Check out this article

http://www.nordicwirelesswatch.com/wireless/story.html?story_id=222...

Sounds like nokia is pushing GPRS as 3G now as well.

Re: ITU
by Mike Bouma on Wed 25th Sep 2002 19:12 UTC

The ITU uses the following criteria with regard to 3G:

"384 kbps for in pedestrian or urban environments"

FOMA in Japan does meet these requirements.

ryan wrote:
> FOMA users in japan, also a W-CDMA network. are getting
> 64 kbps on average.

Those are upload speeds.

FOMA
by ryan on Wed 25th Sep 2002 20:03 UTC

FOMA definitely meets the ITU's specs. No doubt about it. but that is shared capacity. It is not necessarily the user experience.


Re: Misleading consumers...
by Mike Bouma on Wed 25th Sep 2002 20:12 UTC

> NTT DoCoMo is the market leader in Japan, with over 34.6
> million 2.5G i-mode users and around 140,000 3G users.

A typo that should have been "34 million 2G/2.5G i-mode users". All German and Dutch i-mode handsets however currently offer up to 115 kbps by default.

In general one can easily say Japan is very far ahead with regard to mobile communications compared to western countries.

or maybe not
by ryan on Wed 25th Sep 2002 21:18 UTC

"In general one can easily say Japan is very far ahead with regard to mobile communications compared to western countries."

No doubt that in regards to implementation, japan is ahead but not in technology.

If you look at the companies that are moving wireless tech forward like arraycomm, navini, flarion, e-tenna,Ashvatha semiconductor, Iospan Wireless, etc, most are start ups and most are in the US.

W-CDMA, which FOMA uses, for that matter is a incremental step forward from CDMA IS-95/2000. The industry needs a lot better price/performance.

The other issue is just the different life style in japan. Things like longer commutes, greater use of public transportation and still low, formerly lower, use of the wired internet are factors. For a lot of japanese (roughly 1/3 of users by some estimates) imode was their first experience of the web.

My question is what happens to imode as japanese become more accustomed to the real web on larger screens. If they are really outside of their house as much as people claim then maybe not much. I guess we'll see.

SprintPCS Website
by bzImage on Wed 25th Sep 2002 22:57 UTC

I spilled some coke on my keyboard so some keys don't work very well. I accidentally typed www.printpcs.com which apparently has nicer cell phones.

Re: or maybe not
by Mike Bouma on Thu 26th Sep 2002 06:35 UTC

> No doubt that in regards to implementation, japan is
> ahead but not in technology.

Without a doubt the US has a firm position as a leader within the PC market. However I believe with regard to mobile communications Japan clearly lead in technology and even with regard to general consumer electronics the Japanese lead together with Dutch and German.

I am not being chauvinistic here, as I'm not Japanese. ;)

nope not japan
by ryan on Thu 26th Sep 2002 12:50 UTC

"However I believe with regard to mobile communications Japan clearly lead in technology "


nope just not true, and i am not being chauvinistic either.
I work with start ups in wireless technology so i get to see a lot of stuff early, and the break through technology is almost always coming from start ups, again most of which are in the state of california in the US. If anyone has a lead in tech (not implementation, the US lags there)it is the state of california, forget the US.

The technologies that will move wireless forward, as opposed to UMTS WCDMA which is a slight improvement, are things like

Beamforming (adaptive antenna arrays)
OFDM or W-OFDM(air interface)
MIMO (multiple in multiple out (more than one antenna)
Spatial processing (creates massive increases in capacity)
IP centric core and native support for TCP/IP
FAST ARQ
Multi-mode chip sets (802.11/cellular, wcdma/gsm/cdma2000)
more efficient antennas at the handset (check out e-tenna)
efficient wireless MACs (not easy to do)
Peer to peer ad hoc networking (mesh networking)

Most of that is coming from the US. The best engineers left ericsson, NEC, and nokia years ago to become rich at little start ups with great tech. The best wireless technolog is and has been with the US department of defense since the 50's. the US DoD is about 20 to 30 years ahead of the wireless industry, and its alumni often populate those little start ups. The dod, by way, has already given us spread spectrum (cdma), Ultrawideband, smart antennas, mesh networking, low-power/efficient power amplifers (GaAs), etc. the DoD had CDMA 40-50 years ago. Ericsson/nokia are still having problems with it today.

YOu don't hear about it because the little start ups don't have the hype machine of Europe inc, or Japan, inc. or even America, inc. By the way, those start ups are composed of europeans, americans, and asians. the Venture capital environment is what attracts them to the US. Europe, inc. and japan inc are just vying for supremacy in market share, not really technolgoy. don't listen to them. Have faith in the free market economy. Autocrats (yes those people behind W-CDMA)can neither control nor predict the fast moving tech economy. it has a mind of its own.

Re: nope not japan
by Mike Bouma on Thu 26th Sep 2002 14:19 UTC

If there would exist a "Country Inc." I believe that would be an "USA Inc.", for instance the US goverment always has a big mouth when it comes to open markets, but they themselves often do quite the opposite. If it comes down to unfair tax cuts for exporting companies, levying taxes on imported goods, bullying/sanctioning foreign policies, ignoring global environment issues, etc the USA sadly wins the crown... The country acts as one big self-promoting and self-centered company.

Europe's relative weakness lies in the fact many countries seem to have different standpoints. With regard to US states, these mostly do what the US goverment and President orders them to do, forming a huge mighty economic and political block.

Back to mobile technology, it is a mistake to think such innovative companies do not exist in Europe and Japan. Huge European and Japanese companies like Philips, Nokia, Sony, Kyocera, NTT DoCoMo, JVC, etc do alot of innovative wireless research as well, either "in-house" or by investing into smaller 3rd party companies.

Even European Tech executives acknowledge that Japan is far ahead with regard to mobile communications in comparison to the rest in the world. With regard to "implementation" the US is currently even lagging behind compared to western Europe!

europe and japan
by ryan on Thu 26th Sep 2002 15:28 UTC

America, inc? well the country is run by coporations so i guess that is fair. But the hype that Europe and Japan have put up about 3G and their alleged "superiority" is just sickening. yes they are ahead in implementation but not in technology and the hype is just irritating. Look at korea. They are kicking Europe's and Japan's rear in style.They say little and do a lot. I respect that enormously. I just wish European and japanese wireless interests would do the same. the constant hype is like water torture.

interesting factuiod. the wireless business model is accelerated when you operate in high-density areas, like Europe and japan. High density gives you a quicker ROI and the entire cycle goes quicker. This IMHO is one of the reasons why wireless implementation is moving so quickly in Europe and Japan. There are obviously lots of others. Other interesting factuoid. Japan has several competing non-compatible technologies yet penetration is high. So much for the US is behind becuase we have competing technologies. Other factuoid, unlimited local calling plans in the US have historically been far cheaper then those in japan and Europe. That means that the price difference between cell phones service and local service (per minute use) in the US is comparatively larger than in other places.

Back to the story.
Japanese and European companies do a lot of innovative research in wireless. Yes. agree there. For example, alcatel came up with the first GSM direct conversion radio though it didn't really work very well.

Still when you look at the breakthroughs, the things i mentioned above. they are not coming from Europe or Japan.

nonetheless, i have lots of respect for the work being done in Japan and Europe. Much of it is also very impressive.I just wish they'd turn off the hype machine.

Re: europe and japan
by Mike Bouma on Thu 26th Sep 2002 20:30 UTC

> But the hype that Europe and Japan have put up about 3G
> and their alleged "superiority" is just sickening.

I don't think US companies produce any less hype. During my visits to the US my impression was that in general much more marketing and hyping was going on in this country.

> ahead in implementation but not in technology and the
> hype is just irritating.

You don't know what is being worked on behind the scenes in Japan and vice versa. The actual implementation of technology is however the most important indicator. Believe me, the Japanese are working on some nifty gadgets and innovative technologies.

The fact is that DoCoMo was the first to launch a real 3G service back in October 2001 (based on W-CDMA).

> Look at korea. They are kicking Europe's and Japan's
> rear in style. They say little and do a lot. I respect
> that enormously.

They are doing marketing as well. Maybe where you live they focuss more on European and Japanese markets?

> the wireless business model is accelerated when you
> operate in high-density areas, like Europe and japan.

Yes this is a factor. But the New York - Washington erea or the Los Angeles - San Francisco area within California, are extremely populated as well. Of course operators don't need to cover all states simultaniously (and handsets can be made compatible with less advanced networks as a fallback option).

> Japan has several competing non-compatible technologies
> yet penetration is high. So much for the US is behind
> becuase we have competing technologies.

Yes both markets have competing technologies. So I don't really understand this statement.

> Other factuoid, unlimited local calling plans in the US
> have historically been far cheaper then those in japan
> and Europe. That means that the price difference between
> cell phones service and local service (per minute use)
> in the US is comparatively larger than in other places.

One important reasons for higher prices in Europe are higher goverment taxes. This counts for all types of services. Lower taxes in the US should mean a benefit with regard to profit-abilities for US operators.

> Still when you look at the breakthroughs, the things i
> mentioned above. they are not coming from Europe or
> Japan.

There are many breakthroughs in Europe and Japan as well. Global standards however are being developed (or need to be adopted) by international consortiums of companies. You may not know about all the breakthrough technologies in Japan, simply because you don't live in Japan.