How To Set Up 3G Networks To Fail

from the say-it'll-replace-DSL dept

We’ve warned in the past that the wireless industry has a horrible reputation for building up expectations well beyond what they can deliver. Of course, it’s not just the companies in the space, but the analysts who cover the space as well (many of whom do get their info from the companies, anyway). The latest example is a bit of research from a firm suggesting that HSDPA technology (one type of 3G broadband wireless offering) will effectively compete against DSL. Part of the point of the report appears to be to deflate the WiMax bubble a bit — which makes sense. However, pitching HSDPA as an effective DSL replacement is a dangerous move, and the mobile operators should know better than that. Despite the fact that HSDPA (and other 3G technologies) may look good on paper comparisons in terms of bandwidth, they do have a number of limitations — mainly having to do with capacity. If a lot of people really started shifting from DSL to any of these 3G networks, the networks would get overloaded very quickly. This is the reason that mobile operators still keep their unlimited data prices high (limits the number of people who sign up) — and put in onerous terms of service that tell you you can’t actually use the 3G data connection as a replacement line. The terms of service often directly forbid you from using it as a replacement for a DSL line or hide in the fine print that “unlimited” is really quite limited (though, only they know what the limits are). So, you get this situation where the marketing departments (and the analysts they talk to) push it as a replacement for DSL, even though the technologists know that it can’t really handle that kind of usage — so they all leave it to the lawyers to hide those details in the fine print… and everyone ends up unhappy.

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Comments on “How To Set Up 3G Networks To Fail”

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Smoking Fetish Chick (user link) says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Weren’t the same capacity issues were brought up in the early days of Cable Internet Providers? In fact, I think this was one of the selling points for DSL in the DSL vs Cable wars.
If I recall, mass adoption was the problem solver. With mass adoption, the ISPs (the cable companies) were able to ramp up their network capacity & infrastructure to the point that they were able to outdo DSL in each and every case & we all know how that battle seems to be turning out. We can only hope that wireless providers do the same. Besides, even if 3G services can only provide 50% of the bandwidth, I think that the ‘convenience factor’ coupled with the fairly competitive prices ($60) and the adoption of laptop/pda computing will work in 3g’s favor.
DSL is dead, long live DSL

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