By John Tanner
The post-3G wars are finally ready to kick off. The roadmaps are drawn, commercial launch dates have been narrowed down to the quarter, and the PowerPoints have been fully loaded and ready to fire.
Which means that the mobile industry can finally stop talking about the things that really matter to end-users (like services they actually want) and start talking about the things that vendors really love - peak data rates, spectral efficiency, economies of scale and patent royalties.
Joy! I so miss the late '90s. It's good to have them back.
I'm exaggerating, of course. All of the post-3G technology camps (which we shall not refer to as 4G because it only encourages them) assure me that they have their eye firmly on customer demand, and are fully aware that mobile users want simple, seamless services that let them do whatever they want to do at any given time.
And while it may sound old-school to address those demands by throwing a bunch of peak date rates and acronyms at them, it's also a fact that, at least when you're talking to operators, speed and simplified architectures do matter.
Still, those of us who witnessed the original battle for 3G supremacy could be forgiven for seeing the current post-3G showdown between GSM's LTE (Long Term Evolution) and CDMA's UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband) as 3G Standard Wars 2.0.
For one thing, both sides claim superiority over the other as if it's going to make a difference in terms of which cellcos actually adopt it. In reality, for the most part, everyone knows who is going to deploy what where.
The fact that UMB will go commercial in 2009 (one year before LTE) and can be reportedly overlaid over UMTS networks isn't likely to tip the scales in its favor for existing cellcos - not in meaningful numbers, anyway - even in markets where regulators let them decide what technology they want to use with their spectrum.