by Christopher Lindquist

Is the 3G Mobile Standard Wireless Overkill?

Jul 15, 20012 mins

The high-bandwidth, third-generation wireless communications standard, 3G, is on its way. But at least one analyst company thinks that the power it provides isn’t enough to warrant the cost of the upgrade.

That’s the conclusion of “3G in the U.S.: Using a Cannon to Kill a Mouse,” a recent Forrester Research report that examines wireless operators’ upgrade strategies and discusses the market potential and hurdles facing various technologies.

The report notes that customers should be very interested in 2.5G features (due to arrive in certain areas as soon as next year), such as 144Kbps transfer rates and always-on connections. But it concludes that the jump to 2Mbps 3G rates (starting in 2003) may not prove as much of a lure. The problem, according to report coauthor and senior analyst Charles Golvin, is a lack of mobile applications that need the extra speed (though he notes that laptops with 3G modems may take better advantage of the new data rates than handheld devices such as phones).

Service providers, however, feel the urge to upgrade their systems in the hope that they will be able to use new features in the technology to charge on a data-rate basis?billing customers more for certain types of downloaded information and applications. Though Golvin notes that it remains to be seen if consumers will go along with such pricing models.

While we’re all waiting for the new services to arrive, Golvin recommends that companies begin to solidify their wireless platforms in preparation for the coming opportunities.