Many people have jumped to buy smart phones but as of yet I am not one of them. The iPhone, the HTC with Google’s Android, the Blackberry Storm, all are smart phones using 3G technology now. In fact there are few phones purchased these days that don’t have 3g capability.
According to Wikipedia, here are some interesting bits of information about 3G
The first pre-commercial 3G network was launched by NTT DoCoMo in Japan branded FOMA, in May 2001…
By June 2007 the 200 millionth 3G subscriber had been connected….
So yes, many people have moved and are going to move to 3G.
Why I don’t have a 3G phone yet
- While 3G is nice, it is too slow to meet my needs. I have wireless internet access at my house, and at my work and rarely have a need for internet while driving my 10 minute commute to and from work.
- It is too slow for serious browsing and downloading (which I do a lot of) and nowhere near fast enough to use when gaming online (which I don’t do a lot of).
- The phone companies charge way to much for this poor performing internet access. It costs more than my much faster and much more reliable home internet access.
So when will I move to internet access on my phone?
When my phone can replace my home internet access, I will move to wireless internet on my phone. Imagine having a laptop without an AIR Card, yet having internet access where-ever I am. Whether I am home, away, at a hotel. In fact, such a feature could change the industry in that places like a hotels and coffee shops no longer need to be “hot spots” because everyone’s phone is their own “hot spot”.
Well, 3G made the “personal hot spot” a possibility though it cannot deliver this itself, the next generation, 4G, will come closer. However, it has taken the better part of this decade to get a point where 3G is the norm. How many years will it take until 4G is the norm?
4G has some strong requirements according to Wikipedia:
The 4G working group…has defined the following as objectives of the 4G wireless communication standard:
* Flexible channel bandwidth, between 5 and 20 MHz, optionally up to 40 MHz.
* A nominal data rate of 100 Mbit/s while the client physically moves at high speeds relative to the station, and 1 Gbit/s while client and station are in relatively fixed positions as defined by the ITU-R,
* A data rate of at least 100 Mbit/s between any two points in the world,
* Peak link spectral efficiency of 15 bit/s/Hz in the downlink, and 6.75 bit/s/Hz in the uplink (meaning that 1000 Mbit/s in the downlink should be possible over less than 67 MHz bandwidth)
* System spectral efficiency of up to 3 bit/s/Hz/cell in the downlink and 2.25 bit/s/Hz/cell for indoor usage.
* Smooth handoff across heterogeneous networks,
* Seamless connectivity and global roaming across multiple networks,
* High quality of service for next generation multimedia support (real time audio, high speed data, HDTV video content, mobile TV, etc)
* Interoperability with existing wireless standards, and
* An all IP, packet switched network.
At 100 MBit, 4G can replace my home internet access.
However, according to this article, 4G might not really be there: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint 4G: Not so fast
Where is 4G available
I didn’t take to much time to look at all the carriers, but 4G is available in some cities already through Sprint.
This is a flash web site and you have to let it load, then click near the bottom where it says 4G cities.
Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Boise, Austin, and many others already have it.
Houston, San Francisco, DC, New York are others are on the list to be getting it soon.
Alas, Salt Lake City was on neither list.
I could not find if this was true 4G or if it was not. According to Wikipedia,
The pre-4G technology 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) is often branded “4G”
So is Sprint’s service really 4G or is it only a mis-branded pre-4G technology?
AT&T announced that its 4G network won’t be available until 2011 and I am not sure which cities it will roll out first.
What are the market repercussions of 4G?
Well, I already mentioned one. Many of the common “hot spots” will no longer need to exist.
However, that is not where the repercussions end. The biggest repercussions are to companies that provide DSL or Cable internet, or more generally, wired internet. They will suffer the same way that land lines have suffered: the user base will decline. Why would I pay for internet access for my house if I have fast internet access through my phone that my computer can leverage. There are still reasons for home internet access, such as families that need access to the internet when a 4G phone is not home. But when both parents and one or more kids have 4G phones, that might not be the case. There will almost always be internet around. So companies like Comcast or Cox could see a slow decline in users.
However, this is not going to happen for at least a decade, because first, 4G has to deliver on it’s promised speed, or we have to wait for it’s successor. Then 4G or its successor has to become the norm. And then it will take users a few years to get used to not using home internet access. So don’t sell your stock in wired internet companies yet.
- Docking Stations for phones – A computer docking station for the phone. Lets face, most people use a computer for email and browsing the internet and occasionally writing documents. If you had a docking station for an iPhone or an HTC, it would sell. However, I am not sure that the iPhone or the HTC could handle the video display yet, even if the docking station had an on board video card. This technologies is years away.
A similar feature would be a laptop like apparatus that wasn’t a computer but just an LCD and keyboard that is run by your smart phone, but it drastically cheaper than a laptop, it might sell.
Though this wouldn’t be for a gamer but the average home and small business user would adopt such a low cost solution to email and internet access, which is the most common user type. Using cloud tools such as Salesforce as a CRM and Google docs instead of MS Office are already happening todya and since a phone is powerful enough to use these applications, a phone-based docking station might meet many employee’s business needs today. Take away the license costs for Windows and Office, take away the help desk and IT costs of managing such windows-based PCs and a phone with a docking station that replaces a computer becomes an extremely attractive option.
- Cloud Computing for phones – Those jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon have in my opinion made a big mistake in thinking that its market is for the home computer and the Operating System. The market is for remote applications.
The remote applications market is perfect for the future phones and future docking stations that replace the computer completely for some users. The apps and processing are offloaded to a web server somewhere in the could, so a device as simple as a phone doesn’t have to be in charge of the space required or the processing power for apps.
- Cloud Gaming Market – Not all users replace their home computers. The PC gaming market wouldn’t touch such a device until it was powerful enough to play today’s best games, which require some of the best computers and best video cards. However, PC gaming is in the decline as gaming systems have become more and more like computers themselves.
You may think there that are already online games both simple and complex: simple, such as flash games; complex, such as World of Warcraft. Flash games require flash to be installed on the client, and a lot of processing occurs on the client. World of Warcraft has a very large installer and doesn’t completely run on the cloud, it is very resource intensive to the local computer. If a game ran completely on the cloud and all a gaming device had to do was display and pass input, a future generation of the smart phone could handle such a game.