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Letters A couple of letters take us to task for yesterday's piece. The first is from analysts Visant, the second, a timely reminder that we omitted to mention a number of ETLAs which are important to the standards process.

We read your piece on the question of why is there talk of 4G out there when 3G is still awaiting deployment. As a research firm, we have decided to cover 4G since there seems to be a wave of movement towards finding a technology solution that delivers much what 3G has promised, but in a more sensible way when it comes to delivering data over a wide area wireless network.

What is 4G, exactly? There are countless papers and presentations that define fourth generation cellular (4G), with the common thread through all of them being an elimination of circuit-switched network and instituting an IP-based network for the achievement of optimal wireless data benchmarks, in terms of cost and performance. Other attributes for 4G include less reliance on infrastructure (fewer base stations per pop), greater spectral efficiency, and superior economics compared to 3G.

3G may be good, as 2.5G may be, but for wide area high speed wireless data, 4G may be better as it does not concern itself with the circuit-switched legacy that 2.5G and 3G systems conform to. 4G is optimized for packet data and capable of delivery of a user experience in the wide area network that will appeal to businesses and early adopters.

Discussions regarding semantics aside, the real question here is why are carriers interested in these solutions? Other concerning questions are also evident: Why are carriers limiting their deployments of W-CDMA? Where is the gold rush of data revenues that was supposed to accompany 3G? Why are 3G deployments so late in Europe? And, finally, will 3G operators recoup their investment in a timely fashion?

Carriers exist to attain profits. They seek return on investment and not necessarily titles (2.5G, 3G or 4G). Interest in solutions that are being coined 4G will continue because they offer operators something that 3G has failed to deliver in Europe, an attractive business model.

Andy Fuertes
Sr. Analyst
Visant Strategies, Inc.

Larry Swasey
Project Director
Visant Strategies, Inc.

Er, "semantics aside" is a red rag to this bull. We shall not let you off so lightly.



You state that the only standards setting bodies that count are the ITU and the IEEE. Fiddle sticks.

Here in Europe the only one that counts is ETSI. In Japan the only one that counts is ARIB. In China it is CWTS. In the USA there are several (which may help to explain the state of your mobile networks there) of which T1 is possibly the most important. 3G technology is being standardised by a group of these organisations (ETSI, ARIB, CWTS, TTA, T1) working together under the banner 3GPP. 3GPP encompasses 2G (GSM), "2.5G" (EDGE) and 3G (WCDMA) and was responsible for HSDPA and is now studying the possible adoption of OFDM too.

True. the ITU was important as an "umbrella" but when it comes down to brass tacks they had their day in fixed telephone networks but are tinkering now. They are not even part of 3GPP.

As for the IEEE they are the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, they are not a standards setting body in any legal context, and probably don't want to be. At least not if they're sensible. They're not part of 3GPP either. But then I'm only a member of the IEE, which is the comparable organisation here in the UK, so I wouldn't really know. :-)

David Bartlett

Quite right too, and thanks, David. ®

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