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#TBT: GSM vs. CDMA; Starbucks tries out Wi-Fi; Sega’s first mobile game … this week in 2002

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

GSM vs. CDMA, fightfightfight!

DENVER, United States-The world is watching to see which standard-GSM or CDMA-will succeed as the third-generation (3G) battle revs up in the United States, said Probe Research, but the seemingly inevitable deployment of 3G wireless networks is hitting a brick wall in some areas and rushing headlong in others. “The difference between the winners and losers appears to be the technology chosen by the carriers,” said David Chamberlain, research director. “Even as carrier after carrier is announcing delays in deploying the UMTS/W-CDMA standard supported by European standards bodies, rival CDMA carriers in the U.S., Korea and Japan are loading millions of commercial subscribers and making millions of Won and Yen on data services.” The two opposing camps are now facing off on the global 3G battlefield. One, based in Europe, is committed to GSM, a migration path consisting of 2.5-generation General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)-and possibly Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution (EDGE)-then to 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), also called W-CDMA. The other, nominally centered in the United States, is using CDMA with a migration path of 1xRTT and then 1xEV in either data only (DO) or data plus voice (DV) versions. Chamberlain suggested that both technologies ultimately fulfill International Telecommunication Union requirements for 3G, which include 384 kilobits per second (kbps) for pedestrian users, 144 kbps for mobile users and 2.4 Megabits per second (Mbps) for users with stationary equipment. CDMA, however, has an easier migration path. … Read more

Oooo, picture phones!
TOKYO-The number of picture service users in Japan is growing rapidly. NTT DoCoMo, the leading mobile carrier in Japan, announced that the number of subscribers of its i-shot picture phone service exceeded 1 million as of 12 August. The i-shot service allows users of i-shot terminals to take and send pictures taken by tiny cameras built into the terminals. NTT DoCoMo launched the i-shot service on 1 June. Currently, three terminals have been launched. As of 18 August, the number of subscribers hit 1.1 million. Separately J-Phone, a business unit of Vodafone in Japan, announced the number of subscribers to sha-mail, J-Phone’s picture service, exceeded 6 million as of 9 August. … Read more

A 3G-doubting Philips
OXFORD, United Kingdom-Scott McGregor, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Philips Semiconductor, has added to the mounting tide of third-generation (3G) criticism by claiming the company is not convinced about the predicted success of services based on the technology. According to McGregor, the growing acceptance and convergence of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and 802.11 wireless local area network (WLAN) technologies will offer similar connectivity to what 3G services promise to provide at some stage in the future. “Also, what will consumers do with all that 3G bandwidth? It may be cool to send movies to each other, but it’s not that convincing,” said the CEO. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass, McGregor added that there are growing worries about the short battery life of 3G handsets, although he failed to comment on the high battery requirements needed to support an 802.11b card when used within a mobile terminal. Commenting on the handset business in general, which Philips is making a renewed effort to enter after a dismal first attempt, McGregor predicted the cell-phone industry would slow down … Read more

Wi-Fi comes to Starbucks
SAN FRANCISCO-Starbucks Coffee Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and T-Mobile International have combined to launch a hot spot service in Starbucks coffee houses, allowing customers to connect to Internet applications using 802.11b technology. “As easy as ordering their latte, Starbucks customers can check e-mail, surf the Web, watch streaming video or download multimedia presentations in the comfort of Starbucks via a fast, reliable standards-based wireless Internet connection for notebook computers and Pocket PCs,” said Sarbucks in a statement. The T-Mobile Hotspot service will trial for free in about 1,200 Starbucks stores in the United States, with an additional 800 scheduled to feature the service by the end of this year, according to a press statement. International plans call for a six-month pilot program in select London and Berlin locations. T-Mobile said it offers a variety of Internet access service plans, including national and local unlimited monthly plans starting at $30, as well as prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans. … Read more

i-mode data service adoption stumbles in Europe
OXFORD, United Kingdom-KPN Mobile looks likely to miss its target for i-mode subscribers in the Netherlands and Germany by a considerable margin. The company, which recently announced it had a total of 100,000 i-mode users, confidently stated when it launched the system that it would have more than 600,000 customers by the end of 2002. The company claimed that i-mode users are satisfied with the service, with more than 80 percent of customers using the i-mode e-mail function, while “melody and images” and “news and weather” content are said to be among the highest on the list of services accessed. However, since the service was introduced in April of this year, it has only added an average of 19,250 customers per month in Germany and 5,750 in the Netherlands. To achieve the self-imposed year-end targets, KPN Mobile must recruit 84,600 subscribers per month in Germany and 15,400 in the Netherlands. Undeterred by this slow take-up, KPN Mobile said content partners already offer more than 80 official sites on i-mode in the Netherlands and 100 in Germany … Read more

Sega’s first mobile game: Monkey Ball
SAN FRANCISCO-Video game giant Sega.com Inc. released its first ever mobile phone game, Sega Monkey Ball, which will work over Sprint PCS’ newly launched Vision network. Sega Mobile, a recently created division of Sega which focuses specifically on the North American wireless gaming market, said the game will be available for download for about $4 for 30 days of play, which will be billed to users’ phone bills. Further, a free, five-stage demo of Sega Monkey Ball will be embedded on select Vision-capable Sprint phones. “Sprint is pleased to be the first and only U.S. carrier to provide exciting Sega Mobile games to wireless customers,” said Scott Relf, senior vice president of marketing for the PCS Division of Sprint. “With the enhanced speeds and color graphics of PCS Vision and the mobility of Vision-capable PCS Phones, the next evolution of gaming is clearly wireless.” Following the release of Sega Monkey Ball, Sega Mobile will be releasing a host of additional games for Sprint wireless customers, including Pengo and Sega Fast Lane. … Read morehttps://www.rcrwireless.com/20020815/carriers/sega-releases-monkey-ball-for-vision-network

Virgin Mobile gets cross-carrier texting
WARREN, N.J.-Virgin Mobile USA is the latest U.S. carrier to open its network to cross-carrier text messaging-a business that is doubling every eight to ten weeks, according to messaging interoperability company InphoMatch Inc. InphoMatch manages the cross-carrier text messaging systems for AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Verizon Wireless and others. The company said it has delivered 750 million text messages since late last year, and that the volume of inter-carrier text messages is doubling every eight to ten weeks. “We currently process more than 100 million mobile-originated messages monthly on behalf of our wireless carrier customers,” said Colin Matthews, InphoMatch’s chief executive officer. … Read more

Rumored talks to combine VoiceStream and Cingular
NEW YORK-Deutsche Telekom AG has proposed merging its VoiceStream Wireless Corp. operations with Cingular Wireless L.L.C., which is owned by BellSouth Corp. and SBC Communications Inc., according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said unnamed sources close to both companies confirmed talks are at a very early stage and that the merged operations would leave Cingular as the controlling shareholder. DT originally purchased VoiceStream last year for around $30 billion and is looking at ways to reduce its more than $60 billion debt load. Analysts have valued VoiceStream at between $10 billion and $15 billion. This latest industry consolidation rumor comes on the heels of rumored talks between Cingular and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and between AT&T Wireless and VoiceStream. All the companies involved have declined to comment on the rumors … Read More

Ericsson licenses 3G tech to Huawei
BEIJING-Ericsson has granted Huawei Technologies a worldwide, non-exclusive, non-transferable patent license for its W-CDMA/UMTS mobile telephony technology, allowing Huawei to develop, manufacture and sell infrastructure and subscriber equipment using Ericsson’s technology. Huawei Technologies is one of China’s leading communications equipment vendors. In return, Huawei will pay royalties to Ericsson and provide a reciprocal license. Torbjorn Nilsson, senior vice president marketing and strategic business development for Ericsson, said his company is committed to fully supporting and cooperating with local Chinese vendors to accelerate the development of third-generation (3G) products and facilitate market growth in China. … Read more

China Unicom hits 2 million CMDA subs
BEIJING-China Unicom said its CDMA subscriber base has reached the 2 million mark, explaining that the service has passed a “strategic pass.” “The scale of subscribers is now growing rapidly, laying a good foundation for larger scale development in the future,” said Wang Jianzhou, president of the company.

3G suppliers seek more support from China
BEIJING-China’s telecom industry is seeking more government support for China’s own third-generation (3G) technology, Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA), but so far, the government has not indicated which 3G standard it will choose. The most ardent foreign supporter of TD-SCDMA is Siemens, which has invested millions of dollars in co-developing the technology. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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