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March 3, 2003 6:09 AM   Subscribe

3 launches the first 3G mobile phone network - but was it worth the wait?
posted by brettski (31 comments total)

 
At 400 quid for a phone, and 60 quid a month after that. I think they'll be waiting quite some time before the masses flock to 3G technology.
posted by metaxa at 6:13 AM on March 3, 2003


I realize that MetaFilter is a global community with members outside the US, but a product announcement for a British service has little value to the majority of MeFites.

How much is a quid? one appendage less than a squid?
posted by DBAPaul at 6:27 AM on March 3, 2003


Is it any less relevant than a lot of the US-centric stuff that resides here? Please don't let this place turn into fark, where anything UK based instantly turns into a bash the british session.

A quid is a pound, as I hope you could guess. What's a buck?

To answer the original question, I don't think there is a market for 3G outside the flash gits who have to have the latest technology.
posted by twine42 at 6:32 AM on March 3, 2003


A squid is roughly equivalent to a quid, depending on exchange rates.

Why is this relevant? Why are any non-US posts relevant?

Besides - the UK launch of 3G is most likely of interest to the US, as 3G will (probably) be launching in the US sometime (relatively) soon.
posted by influx at 6:34 AM on March 3, 2003


I figured that the launch of the first service of a technology that companies have paid billions for the licences for (practically bankrupting some), and which promises to revolutionise the way communicate may be of interest. Still if you'd all rather talk about Iraq ;-)
posted by brettski at 6:36 AM on March 3, 2003


If I could see proper clear, unjerky images of the people I was chatting to I'd squeal like a child. I'm not paying £60 a month for it though.
posted by Summer at 6:46 AM on March 3, 2003


"3G" is like the monorail in the eponymous "Simpsons" episode: a pointless train to nowhere, shilled by a repeat scam artist, offering services not much of anybody has asked for, at ludicrous cost.

Wait and see: mesh-networked 802.11g VoIP phones are going to eat 3G alive.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:52 AM on March 3, 2003


Is 3G just a catchall term for high-bandwidth packet-switched wireless access?
posted by daveadams at 6:54 AM on March 3, 2003


a pointless train to nowhere, shilled by a repeat scam artist, offering services not much of anybody has asked for, at ludicrous cost.

well, gosh, sounds like it would be HUGE hit here in the US, where braindead consumerbots buy anything their television tells them to!

Is 3G just a catchall term for high-bandwidth packet-switched wireless access?

but that would make it a shameless marketing buzzword! no! on this network, bits are violently accelerated such that electrons actually attain three times their normal weight!
posted by quonsar at 7:01 AM on March 3, 2003


Is 3G just a catchall term for high-bandwidth packet-switched wireless access?

Yes.

Wait and see: mesh-networked 802.11g VoIP phones are going to eat 3G alive.

Not unless I can use one of those while driving down the freeway.
posted by laz-e-boy at 7:02 AM on March 3, 2003


The problem with the FPP is that it's wrong. This is the UK's first 3G network, but in Japan, NTT's FOMA has been around for awhile, and KDDI's network, which went online after NTT's, topped a million subscribers last June.

But the high prices of the UK sets are reflective of the way that NTT handled things. I'm pretty sure KDDI's prices are more reasonable. Also, FOMA phones are really bulky and are said to have a short battery life.

and which promises to revolutionize the way communicate

Not sure about this. Pre 3G phones can do pictures and movies just fine. And play games. And plenty of other neat functions. Although the soul-mortgaging for for leases might cause a pretty hefty shakeout in service providers that would really change the market.

On preview, what adamgreenfield and daveadams said.
posted by chiheisen at 7:05 AM on March 3, 2003


I thought the Japanese systems were 2.5G not 3G?
posted by brettski at 7:10 AM on March 3, 2003


FOMA's 3G, and it sucks a dead donkey's dick. It's a brick, for one thing, its UI is laughably byzantine, and so on and so forth.

When the dudes from DoCoMo came to the office one day last fall, wanting insight as to why FOMA wasn't flying from the shelves the way iMode handsets did, I drew a second cousin of the old Iron Triangle on the whiteboard.

Three points. Label 'em EXPENSIVE, DIFFICULT TO USE, NO CLEAR APPLICATION, and connect 'em. Then say, "You can get away with one, and given that this is Japan and you're DoCoMo, you might get away with two and still shift units. But not all three."

Probably did not make myself too many friends at DoCoMo that day. Another glorious day in the core...
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:27 AM on March 3, 2003


Japan got 3G 1st October 2001, according to the register...
posted by twine42 at 7:28 AM on March 3, 2003


And relying yet again on the same tired idoru ads, in an act that redefines "laziness," probably didn't help them out much either. The day has hopefully passed when you could sell a bazillion of something inane just by slapping up ads all over Shibuya and waiting for the rush.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:30 AM on March 3, 2003


We've had 3g phones for awhile here on the east coast of the USA. Verizon express service... expensive, and, well.... pretty useless.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. This sort of thing makes sense in Japan or the UK where people tend to commute by train. In the US, we commute alone in cars back and forth from our broadband connected homes/work. I would imagine that very few people care for the extra utility of 3g phones here....
posted by ph00dz at 7:31 AM on March 3, 2003


twine, thanks I seriously didn't know that quid was slang for pound.
posted by DBAPaul at 7:34 AM on March 3, 2003


Some links you may like:

Disclaimer: I don't give a damn about Siemens product, in fact I own a Nokia, but I don't care at all about the brand of my devices. So I neither endorse or condemn Siemens products, links, webpages, employees restrooms.

Pdfs, Specs and stuff for the technically inclined readers.


a Flash demo of an UMTS phone with features , benefits etc for the less technically inclined readers and the "just curious" readers.
posted by elpapacito at 7:36 AM on March 3, 2003


DBAPaul, fairy nuff... I assumed it was one that would have come over in films. If you want to know more, check out this link. [stiffled giggles]
posted by twine42 at 7:37 AM on March 3, 2003


I take it back, sort of: not entirely useless.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:46 AM on March 3, 2003


AFAIK Verizon 3G is actually GPRS under a marketing buzzword, so it's actually 2.5G.
posted by nedrichards at 7:56 AM on March 3, 2003


Todays Date: 03-03-03
posted by stbalbach at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2003


Big problem for 3, as people have said, is that the current 2.5G phones (doing GPRS, camera stuff and MMS) are far sexier. And people will upgrade to the cheaper, sexier phones ahead of the ones with more features.
posted by riviera at 8:14 AM on March 3, 2003


nedrichards: Only GSM networks use GPRS. Sprint PCS Vision and Verizon Express Network are CDMA2000 1xRTT (though Verizon doesn't have it deployed nationwide yet). This technology tends to have faster real-world speed than GPRS, and has the added advantage of being able to carry voice (backwards and forwards compatible with CDMA), effectively halving the bandwidth required for each phone as users upgrade to 1xRTT phones.
posted by esoterica at 8:59 AM on March 3, 2003


And relying yet again on the same tired idoru ads, in an act that redefines "laziness," probably didn't help them out much either. The day has hopefully passed when you could sell a bazillion of something inane just by slapping up ads all over Shibuya and waiting for the rush.

Well, I don't think that day will pass anytime soon. Most things that are hawked by the local talent are and are not notably inferior to existing products that perform all the same functions that consumers want, cost way less and are being hawked by even more popular people will sell, given the right ads.

Any widget will sell well in Japan if it has a good shill. The only things that can stop it are time and better shills for similar products.
posted by chiheisen at 9:04 AM on March 3, 2003


The one 'killer app' that I can see for 3G phones isn't video or any of that nonsense - it's location based information. A lot of the new 3G phones have this thing called Assisted GPS that allows you to pinpoint your location to within a few metres. I know that I'd find this useful for getting around unfamiliar towns and finding shops and such, and there are many more advanced applications that could take advantage of this.
posted by adrianhon at 10:03 AM on March 3, 2003


Does anybody know about the specs of this network? I assume they're using WCDMA but what about data rates, etc.? I took a cursory glance at the website but couldn't find anything.
posted by gyc at 1:26 PM on March 3, 2003


brettski, it really looks like this has been done elsewhere a good dozen times before. The US alone has three GPRS networks and two CDMA2000 1X networks. Sprint even provides the service across their entire national network. Since "3" isn't providing any further information regarding their technology, I'm going to assume that it's a standard GPRS network. Not only that, but according to the website it doesn't appear to even be available yet (the website is still accepting "Pre-orders"). So far, this appears to be a non-story even for those in the UK.
posted by esoterica at 1:28 PM on March 3, 2003


Wait and see: mesh-networked 802.11g VoIP phones are going to eat 3G alive.

Assuming that mesh networks will grow sufficiently to continue drawing in new subscribers. Niche markets that quickly saturate don't make for great business models, any more than sinking billions into incremental improvements in bandwidth.
posted by eddydamascene at 1:39 PM on March 3, 2003


This thread aptly demonstrates the severe confusion around "3G". Partly because many operators have confused things in the last year by relabelling "2.5G" as "3G" for marketing purposes. The confusion also results from multiple technology migration paths and a gap between claimed bandwidth of networks and real world throughput. A brief primer:

All European carriers use GSM. The path from GSM is typically to GPRS (think 'dialup Internet") with sustained speeds of, say 30kbps. Beyond GPRS, carriers can migrate to EDGE (theoretically up to 384kbps). Some might consider EDGE 3G. GSM carriers can also go right to UMTS (aka WCDMA) and offer 2mbps throughput. 3, the consumer brand of Hutchinson, is the first Euro carrier to make this move, which is why everyone is watching them.

Outside of Europe you have (as in the US) carriers running TDMA or CDMA networks. TDMA carriers like ATT or Cingular are running parallel GPRS networks, and the TDMA migration path also could be to EDGE and then UMTS. The CDMA world (dominated by IP holders Qualcomm, Samsung, and Motorola) are on a different path, which begins with CDMA 1X (Sprint, maybe north of 150kbps) and continues to CDMA 1X EV (2mbps).

A lot of alphabet soup, incompatible technology standards, and technology alliances (which is why so far you seldom see a Nokia phone on a CDMA network or Motorola phones on a GSM network). Add to this the profound complexity of rolling out scalable, high bandwidth radio networks, general consumer confusion, and BILLIONS of dollars in just debt for the 3G spectrum licenses and, well, you've got a pretty interesting FPP in my opinion.

I was at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes a couple weeks ago--the mobile tradeshow--and Hutchinson pulled out of the show right before it started to keep all hands on deck for today's 3 launch. There is much riding on this . . .
posted by donovan at 2:41 PM on March 3, 2003


And there's no better way to celebrate the UK's new 3G network than enjoying an icy-cold glass of Pepsi Blue.

I mean, seriously. A FPP with a link to a mobile phone company and a thinly veiled PR piece. You've got to be kidding me.

(Which is not to say that talking about new technology isn't cool, it's just that I wish such threads could be organic, not a cotton-polyester blend.)
posted by LimePi at 4:36 PM on March 3, 2003


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