The technology wars aren’t over until the new universal, third generation worldwide standard is developed.
Two prominent institutions are pushing the development of such a standard-the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels.
The ITU first proposed the idea. A committee called it the Future Public Land Mobile Telecommunications System, or FPLMTS. It was an unwieldy acronym.
Recently, the ITU renamed the project International Mobile Telecommunications 2000. The union has a vision of “global wireless access” in the 21st century, possibly in the 2 GHz range. And with IMT-2000, it wants to help direct technological developments that will help with the convergence of “these essentially competing wireless access technologies.”
The competing technology standards are Global System for Mobile communications, Code Division Multiple Access and Time Division Multiple Access.
At this time, these networks don’t interoperate. A CDMA user in Korea is out of luck trying to roam on a GSM system in Europe, and vice versa.
Current efforts have focused on creating handset terminals that are loaded with two digital technologies or can operate at numerous frequencies.
The European Union has expressed support for a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, or UMTS. The EU wants to see the development of mobile multimedia systems, and believes a single, global system will allow this.
But which technology will be chosen as the basis for the universal one? Support groups are beginning to get into position.
The CDMA Development Group said it is putting the finishing touches on its new initiative for third-generation CDMA, and will present it to the ITU.
“We want to be sure that current CDMA system operators will have a simplified evolution to next-generation services,” said Perry LaForge, CDG executive director. He said the CDG not only will work with the ITU, but with service providers and manufacturers to create flexible, seamless services that aren’t available with current wireless systems.
A Mobile Data Initiative to promote GSM was formed last fall by 10 communication technology companies, namely L.M. Ericsson, Nokia Corp., Intel Corp., Compaq Inc., IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Deutsche Telekom AG, Toshiba Ltd., and two United Kingdom wireless operators Cellnet and Vodata.
The Mobile Data Initiative supports digital cellular for rapid and cost-effective connections to corporate networks and the Internet; plans include the addition of GSM support to Microsoft’s Windows operating system and the development of GSM Internet connections at low rates.
The Mobile Data Initiative said the presence of global companies such as IBM and Microsoft “greatly strengthens the standard’s chances of being adopted as the world mobile data and voice standard.”