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3G: Will it be the Start of a ‘Fast’ Era?

Jayakishore Bayadi
Monday, September 1, 2008
Jayakishore Bayadi
With the Indian government’s announcement of decision to auction 3G spectrum by the end of September, the marketplace is abuzz with what 3G holds for the telecom sector and to the millions of mobile users. It is expected to bring about tremendous potential for millions of novel value added services (VAS) and data applications, may be fuelled by three Gs, Games-Gamble-Girls! It is effective route to deliver mobile broadband to the masses. “3G is an opportunity creator driven by massive broadband penetration which is extremely good for India,” says Navin Chaddha, Managing Director, Mayfield Fund, CA, U.S. Perhaps it will single-handedly achieve far more in terms of bridging the digital divide than any other measure or policies.

3G is the third generation of mobile phone standards and technology superseding 2G and preceding 4G. An alphanumeric acronym, 3G stands for ‘third-generation mobile communications standard’. It supports very high bandwidth of up to 2Mbps, which is an exponential improvement over the 10kbps offered by the 2G (second-generation) and the 144kpbs speed of the currently prevailing 2.5G EDGE networks. Imagine, in 3G at peak speeds, you can download an MP3 song, which would take 30-40 minutes on 2G and 10-12 minutes on 2.5G, within 1.5 minutes! At speeds that are almost 10 times the existing technologies 3G will provide a better user experience, while creating fresh opportunities for high-speed data services such as video telephony, video-on-demand, mobile TV, and other entertainment related services. Broadly, 3G could change the very reasons for which we use the tiny pocket device!

“In India, the rolling out of 3G will help in exploiting its cheaper scalable voice capacity, along with its data carrying capabilities for operators,” says Alok Mittal, Managing Director, Canaan Partners. In 3G, the number of voice channels per spectrum is higher than that of 2G, and the spectrum utilization is far better for voice. Hence, at a basic level, 3G may not change much for the consumers, and operators should be able to continue their drive for user growth in a better way than they are doing it in 2G. Customers can expect better service levels; that means voice calls will have much better quality than at the present. However, high data transfer capability will be the key driver in 3G. For instance, USB modem based Internet services like Tata Indicom’s Plug-to-Surf may become faster than now. Though such services on 3G will be initially a bit costlier, the operators will woo the customers with ‘fast’ and ‘quality’ applications.

It is fascinating to see how 3G will pan out in India and what are all the VAS applications that are going to come in future? What could be the ‘killer application’ here? In Japan the video telephony, something similar to a video chat you do with your dear ones on your laptop connected to the Internet and downloading music was the biggest draw. Will it repeat in India? “It’s indeed exciting, only imagination will be the limitation,” says Srini Vudayagiri, MD, Lightspeed Venture Partners. “Mobile applications development for entertainment, and for segments like video broadcast and data-intensive services such as stock transactions, e-learning, and telemedicine through wireless communications, and advertisement could gain momentum. Middleware and service applications development for horizontals like billing, payment, provisioning, and building security issues surrounding them also could be hot opportunities,” he adds.

Killer applications need not be entirely new ones. Novelty lies in how the Web apps can be brought into the mobile space.“3G is an enabling technology that makes an application available to broader audience. So, it will be an extension of Web 2.0 applications on the PC to the mobile space, which will create more space to innovate on bringing the apps in the PC world to mobile world,” opines Chaddha. For instance, besides ushering in faster data transfer, 3G mobile services will provide huge advertising opportunities. As 3G services will bring better video quality and faster Internet access that will enable easy viewing of advertisements, entrepreneurs can envision the opportunities to build innovative Internet advertisement platforms and applications suitable for the mobile space, just as they built it for the Internet space.

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Reader's comments(1)
Posted by: karthick vijaya kumar - 22nd Sep 2008
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