Thursday, June 11, 2009

LTE Is 4G but 3G Still Dominates And Is Growing

Either through me or others, you probably heard about how the Japanese are living in mobile heaven.  Their whole lives revolved around their cell phones.  Some folks have more than one in Japan.  They watch TV on it.  They surf the web on it.  They pay for their transportation with their mobile phones.  Well, you are saying we do that now, except for the paying for public transportation part.

I thought the mobile providers like Docomo and Softbank are running on 5G or 6G networks by now.  That turned out to be not the case.  In fact, Japanese mobile providers are in the same boat US providers - looking to provide LTE in 2011 or 2012.  Softbank subscribers will not be able to count on LTE access until 2013 at the earliest.

Having said that, while a lot of insiders and bloggers are looking to LTE, there is a lot of life to 3G left.  Only 11% of the global wireless subscribers are on 3G.  And by 2013, that will go up to 28%.  That sounds about right given in the US, ATT is struggle to keep up with demand upgrading to a higher speed while T-Mobile's network launched in late 2008 is still being built out.

Oh, and WiMax is ahead with 9 networks deployed worldwide, mainly in Asia.  In the US, Sprint and Clearwire are in a race to get their networks up and running before Verizon Wireless gets the ball rolling on LTE in the second half of 2010.

The figures and network deployment are from an e-mail summary.  For the full report and $3,995, you can get it here.

So, we're in a good shape in the US, right?  All things cool in Asia since they live in a mobile mecca?  The Middle East and Eastern Europe are looking to WiMax.

Not quite.  If you've been with me in the last year, I've called out the wireless providers, particular American ones, who want to be our "mobile gatekeepers".  What they want is to nickel and dime us to death.  And as is their business model, they're trying to milk every single penny out of their network before having to upgrade.

I just think they're evil.  For mobile warriors who disagree with me, I respect that and understand the other side of this argument.  I just think these guys are just using excuses to hinder open access and innovation.  I'm not big on government intervention but this is one area where I like to see some FCC actions.

Wherever you are when you read this, education, science, and commerce are increasingly reliant on wireless technologies.  The faster your region, or here in America, can deploy affordable wireless access to the masses, the quicker and better a society can be prepared for the future.

Just a thought.

As it stands now in the US, ATT is looking to upgrade its 3G network to 7.2Mbps and eventually 21Mbps. Sprint and Verizon seems content with their current deployment.  Verizon will get going withe LTE in the 2nd half of 2010 while Sprint is working on WiMax.  T-Mobile is currently digesting its brand new 3G network so I'm not hopeful they're even thinking about a 4G network.

Note:  Think EDGE is dead?  There are two 2G networks currently being deployed somewhere on this planet.

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