Overly Optimistic: Analysts Predict Cellular Broadband To Surpass Copper Broadband By 2010

from the yeah,-right dept

There's just something about new wireless technologies that seems to make analysts over-estimate their impact. I still remember when people were talking about how GPRS was going to be a real DSL replacement. GPRS, of course, was an incredibly unreliable and ridiculously slow update on GSM wireless technology. Yet, before it was used, there were stories predicting how it would be a wireless revolution. And then people started using it. And pretty much the same thing has happened with each advance in cellular technology. I remember people saying that EDGE, EV-DO, and HSDPA (all network upgrades) were going to be good enough to replace DSL or cable modems. Yet, even though EV-DO and HSDPA get decent speeds (still much slower than your average DSL or cable), the real problem is how these networks simply don't have the capacity to be a real home broadband replacement. That's why all of the contracts have ridiculous limits, suggesting you can't do very much with them, and often placing exceptionally low usage caps on the services.

Of course, don't tell that to the analysts, who can't resist making the same exact prediction about cellular broadband replacing home broadband. The latest such report is focused on the UK, and says that cellular based broadband for computers will surpass DSL or cable as the primary connection for users by 2010. That's not very far in the future. Now, certainly, mobile technology has improved greatly over the years, and there's still plenty more to come. However, the only really consistency in the mobile world is that many analysts over-estimate both the speed with which these new networks are adopted and the quality of these mobile networks. It would certainly be great, if true, but consider me skeptical.

Filed Under: broadband, predictions, uk, wireless


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  1. identicon
    Jake, 20 Jun 2008 @ 6:13am

    Re: I love a good bedtime story...

    On the other hand, a smart cellphone operator may well see the gap in the market created by the issues SteveD described above and start investing in an upgrade to fibre-optic; the network hasn't grown as organically as the regular phone system and presumably has at least some built-in redundancy, so they can start rolling out the improvements as and when each individual mast goes offline for routine maintenance. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say either Virgin or O2 will make the first moves in this direction; Virgin already have an interest in broadband internet provision, and O2 are already under pressure to boost their network capacity as they have a number of government contracts they'd presumably like to keep.

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