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Prospects for 3G Still Hazy?

3G wireless services have been both hyped and denigrated -- Americans, in particular, seem hesitant to accept the technology, calling it a 'classic case of vapourware.'

When NTT DoCoMo delayed the official launch of its 3G service many analysts breathed a sigh of relief.

"What this means is a return to sanity," said David Chamberlain, research director at Probe Research.

Chamberlain is of the opinion that despite all the 3G hype, the US market has no need for 3G's promise of full-motion video on a screen slightly bigger than your thumb.

"The wireless carriers are trying to invent applications for the 3G wireless Internet, and Im not sure they're the ones to do it," he mused. "Furthermore," he scoffed, "there have been too many broken promises and missed deadlines...why announce 3G when you can't install it?"

For Chamberlain and many other US analysts WAP seems to make for a fitting counterpart to 3G. "Unlike 3G, it's not hard to see what the demand is for WAP services," Chamberlain said.

Nonetheless WAP has been bugged by ease of use and display interface problems. According to a recent study by the Meta Group, between 80 to 90 percent of corporate WAP customers use their cell phones for voice communications only and indicated a "wholly unsatisfactory experience" concerning the extra WAP features.

Forrester Research, however, believes that 2.5G technologies will address many of the problems associated with WAP, bringing better devices and bigger bandwidth to consumers.

"With the onset of 2.5G we'll get better phones and devices with improved screens and better navigation capabilities," said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.

These services won't, however, be available until 2003 and by that stage 3G won't be far behind.

Despite accusations that 3G's nothing more than vapourware, DoCoMo expects millions of users for its impending 3G public roll-out.



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