Edge is far from dead - many operators around the world still haven't deployed 3G technologies, and even in the UK once you venture outside major cities Edge is the best you can hope for. Edge is even evolving to support dual-carrier connections: basically one handset supporting two separate Edge connections, doubling the bandwidth without requiring any network upgrade.
So much for O2's decision to go straight to 3G: Apple highlights the iPhone's use of Edge
But even with Edge users still resolutely refused to start using mobile data in a big way: ironically it was O2 who realised that no one was going to be impressed by Edge, and decided against deploying it while pushing ahead with 3G, a step forward it was obliged to go back on when it got the exclusive deal for Apple's iPhone, which only supported Edge connections. The project was even codenamed 'Bono', on the basis that it was worthless without The Edge.
But back in 2000, the mobile industry's self-delusion continued with the promise that 3G services would take the world by storm, and operators paid billions for some 2.1GHz spectrum in which to run 3G networks - their licences prevent them using the technology anywhere else. The 3G GSM standard is W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and offers much better data rates by taking advantage of a technology that was already popular in the US whereby multiple users can share the same frequency without mucking about with time slots.
The American Way
Unlike Europe, which was happy to have a central authority mandating GSM as a wireless standard, US carriers deployed a wide range of technologies on the basis that a free market would reward the best one. This resulted in a bundle of different mobile networks, largely incompatible, that have now paired down to a few, most notably CDMA and GSM. These days, GSM is displacing CDMA, but that's thanks to worldwide deployments driving down the cost while pushing up the pressure for compatibility, rather than any inherent technical superiority.
CDMA 2000 EVDO Timeline
CDMA technology is largely owned by Qualcomm, and is based on the idea that each transmission is identified by an encoding system rather than a time or frequency slot. W-CDMA is an FDD standard, so every connection needs a pair of 5MHz-wide bands: one for transmitting, one for receiving. Each pair can be shared with other users thanks to the code division system.
In the process of trying to make OFDM more palatable to a non-comms audience, you seem to have missed the real advantage of the technique. The real beauty of OFDM is the flexibility given by so many orthogonal low-bandwidth sub-carriers: you can avoid the problem of frequency-selective fading for one user (mitigating their bad channel) by moving their allocation in the spectrum. This leads to much more efficient usage of spectrum, and better channels for all. It is excellent at adapting to nasty channel conditions in slowly-changing channels*.
I'm not really sure what you're getting at with regards to "solving" the problem of "timing". If you're referring to inter-symbol interference, which is indeed a concern, then OFDM doesn't directly solve this by "putting [chunks] in different frequencies" - but what it does do is ensure that the symbol rate on each individual component frequency is low enough that ISI can be mitigated easily. But if you're referring to interleaving, which does indeed spread "chunks" of data amongst frequencies, then that helps solve a different problem: the issue of losing bursts of data in frequency-specific fades.
On the down side, OFDM really isn't good in channels with a great deal of doppler shift (since it breaks the orthogonality between the sub-carriers) - making it non-ideal for use in fast-moving vehicles, for instance, without specific counter-measures.
8390? shouldnt that be 8310?
Good article, but as this article seems to have a UK slant to it.. the 8310 should have been the phone that was mentioned as being the first with GPRS in the UK. The 8390 was not even the first phone in the US with GPRS, a motorola timeport was, if i remember correctly.
Jobs - because the iPhone wasnt a world first in any area.
"mobile data is all about ..."
That's the 64billion dollar question, isn't it.
Is it about seeing the same internet as at home (or in the office), when you're on the move (nb on the move, *not* just away from base but stationary at a WiFi hotspot).
Or is it about the mobile web, about some selection of significant websites recognising that there are going to be as many folk viewing them on "mobile internet devices" (phones, PDAs, maybe netbooks) as there are on PCs, and that their website designs should reflect that (eg no Flash).
It isn't about "m-commerce" yet, or about "location dependent services", and folks have been trying that for a decade or so. Mind you, Google has recently changed the market rules, as it sometimes does, with Google Maps for Mobile and the things you can do with that.
Yahoo nearly works on my S60 mobile in Opera Mini. BBC news has a "low graphics" version too. Google Maps for Mobile is fantastic, though without a GPS it sometimes gets confused (but that's probably not Google's fault).
But not everyone does so well. Obviously anyone designing in Flash has wasted their time even more than usual. Some sites that you would imagine might be of particular interest to those out and about are so full of big-screen rubbish and scripts and so on that they are useless on a small screen device, mobile or otherwise. Classic examples would include weather forecasts from the Met Office and traffic reports from the Highways Agency.
So, what exactly is the killer app for mobile broadband? How is it going to make money for the cellcos, so they can pay for all that extra bandwidth to all those new cells?
I know, we could do location-dependent downloaded-on-demand high-definition video ringtone subscription service. Yeah, that'd work. Where's the Dragon's Den number.
Well? You got any better ideas?
Handset or PC?
To me the main reason that data on 2G/3G etc. has not really taken off is that most content is not suitable for a phone handset.
When WAP first came out, most web content was too complex and there were attempts to produce WAP portals which would offer cut down content suitable for the handsets.
At that point most web content would have displayed well on my EEE PC (if it had existed then).
Now content is so rich and so loaded with fancy video and special effects that I struggle on my EEE PC and my older portable to view the website in the way that the cutting edge design intended.
Nice on my new 1440 * 900 Dell portable, though :-)
Not much good on a phone handset :-(
For me, mobile data is all about freeing portable PCs from fixed ADSL/cable connections.
You can get the rich content you have come to expect when you are away from your cosy nest.
Now if only the coverage, reliability, bandwidth etc. etc. wasn't totally crap. (Speaking as a Virgin customer).
If I want to talk to someone or send a text message I use my phone.
For getting serious data off t'Internet I use a PC.
Then again, I am from the keyboard generation and can't think through my thumbs.