Friday, 11 January 2008

Packet Data; what you should know

Wasn’t 3G supposed to be ‘broadband’ on your mobile?

There is considerable user confusion in the mobile space over technology terminology. We are as very guilty of creating a raft of wonderful acronyms that mean absolutely nothing to the consumer or business, so it potentially would be very easy to assume that 3G is broadband on your phone. Fact is 3G is a faster than GPRS (another great acronym!) internet based protocol connection available in certain geographic locations such as major cities and conurbations, that can provide data and content to and from a mobile phone to a laptop. The speed of the connection will be between 80Kbps to 128Kbps which comes nowhere close to your home wired broadband connection which is 2Mbs to 8Mbs.

Where does HSDPA fit in? Are there alternatives to this technology?

HSDPA is simply a software protocol enhancement to 3G to improve its performance, with the HSDPA you can expect data speeds of up to 4 times that of 3G. An alternative does exist to both 3G and HSDPA this is Wireless LAN (WiFi) and Public Wireless LAN. Like 3G WiFi tends to be available in certain geographic locations, however the locations tend to be where people congregate such as shopping centre’s, hotels, airports, pubs, etc WiFi is more available than HSDPA.

Do consumers really want a replica of the desktop internet experience on their mobiles?

Consumers only use technology if it easy to use, available and cost effective. Replicating the desktop experience is not a practical approach to mobile internet since the screen sizes and wireless data speeds prohibit a rich experience. However mobile content provision on the move does work provided that the content is provisioned take into account the smaller canvasses of mobile devices. There are many examples of this being delivered successfully; the kings of content the BCC have a mobile content version of their news web site and recently introduced video podcasts of BBC Breakfast news Google has a mobile version of there search page. However the majority of internet content as yet to take into account mobile devices thus the experience of mobile internet currently is poor.

Can the handsets cope?

The average pixel resolution of a screen on a 3G mobile device is considerably less than that of a desktop computer, provided the content is rendered to support small screen then handset can cope. Sending large amounts of data that the mobile device need to interpolate to fit on its small screen is a waste of data and processing power.

What’s more important – access speed or access to content?

Content is king. Without content there is no demand. So it matter not a hoot how fast you connect, if there is nothing to connect to speed is irrelevant. Which is the situation that many operators are finding themselves in, they have the 3G networks but other than PC users on data cards there is no driver for users to start consuming large amounts of data bandwidth. Content like streaming TV, video clips, music downloads etc are starting to get things moving and this just proves the point that content is King.

Whatever happened to WAP?

WAP is alive and well and living in most mobile devices. These days no one refers to WAP, but WAP push technology allows you to push rich content to a mobile user. I think the industry learned the lesson and also learnt the good stuff from the WAP protocol suite.


JolietJake said...

Agree that content is the driver, so we would need to see banking and shopping on pda's and smartphones, google search is good but I won't pay to have that on my phone.

How do you percieve this content arriving on the small screen? Is Opera Mobile the way to go or will the content providers adapt to pda screens?

What about cost models, will the telecom operators provide free content funded by advertisers or will they treat this like a premium service?

Steve Reynolds said...

You have some very valid questions.

There are two keys to Mobile Internet sucess. These are creative all you can eat tarrifs from the networks (these are now available, initially started by T-Mobile in the UK) and content that works on small landscape web browsers, the BBC mobile content is great example of this.

I am sure content funded by advertisments will be coming to a small screen near you very soon !

I hope this helps?