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3G Cel Service Starts in Japan 225

Graymalkn writes "According to this story on the BBC, DoCoMo has finally launched the world's first 3G cellular service in Japan. Phones start at $560 and can go as high as $800 for one which can double as a video camera." Eventually they'll be able to watch movies on the new phones, but for now service for the phones is limited to a 20 mile radius around the center of Tokyo. I haven't found an exact number of bandwidth, but I believe it's like 384k downlink. To your phone. Once again, my jealousy runs rampant.
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3G Cel Service Starts in Japan

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  • Tentacle porn on the go!
  • I want a 326k download on my phone!! Although I must admit driving and watching my cell phone won't be great for my driving record. ^_^

    Although it will be a great watching the Fifth Element during my Political Science class. Hmmm... This applys to government... By having government in it. ^_^
  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:27PM (#2374621) Journal
    and the thing overheats in 15 min. [] Sounds pretty experimental to me...
    • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:39PM (#2374725) Homepage Journal

      That article merely says that it heats up after 15 minutes (i.e. It doesn't say that it overheats. My laptop heats up pretty wickedly but it still works). Every technology has to start somewhere. This will give them the capital to make v2 that has a long battery life and is commercially accepted.

      • This will give them the capital to make v2 that has a long battery life and is commercially accepted.

        Not to be too much of a troll, but would you buy a new phone for several hundred bucks (or several thousand yen) with one hour of battery life? Or would you, like most people, wait till rev 2? Where is the capital going to come from? According to reports, they hope to sign up 60 million users by next year. Might be tough when almost every Japanese has a working phone and the 3G stuff is just a little too "new". Just my thoughts.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It "heats up", not "overheats". Batteries normally heat up when they're being drained quickly. Saying that they're overheating is like saying your video card overheats because the heatsink gets warm after you start playing Quake.
    • "The battery heats up after about 15 minutes of conversation and runs out fairly quickly, in about an hour, compared to second generation phones which can last for hours, or even a whole day."

  • Serious question (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why doesn't this kind of technology show up at my local cell phone retailer?
  • long term thinking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by [amorphis] ( 45762 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:28PM (#2374627)
    NTT DoCoMo is also cautious, expecting only one in every 10 subscribers to have a 3G phone in three years' time.

    Wow, that statement really illustrates how Japanese think in the long term.

    I hope, for their sake, that they can run legacy networks over the new backbone.

    • I hope, for their sake, that they can run legacy networks over the new backbone.

      If they freely make forecasts like this, then it's pretty obvious that they have some plan in place for legacy stuff.
    • by jpostel ( 114922 )
      The sad part is that US will not have wide acceptance (like today's digital cell network) of 3G for at least 2 years after Japan based on the current plans to use 2.5G as a stepping stone. That makes it at least 5 years away.

      I got Sprint PCS when digital service was pretty new (3-4 yrs ago?) and the reception was crystal clear... as long as I stood still and did some funky yoga moves to align the antenna. The service is much better in NJ and NY today. Based on that timeline, 3G service in the US won't be any good until at least 2006.
  • Sure....! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by firewort ( 180062 )
    *SURE* I want to spend $800 on a phone that does 384kbit/s video...

    ALL I have to do is- give up any sense of privacy in my whereabouts to Government (big brother) Agencies....

    As cool as it sounds, as much as I've wanted to have video phone, I think I will have to PASS.

    No thanks.

  • 3G (Score:3, Interesting)

    by seizer ( 16950 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:31PM (#2374664) Homepage
    In Europe, providers say they will have to quintuple (x5) the density of antennas to support 3G... local community planners are very unhappy!

    By the way, the phone's price will be less - networks subsidise the handset manufacturer's prices, based on the idea that you will spend craploads of cash when you actually use the phone.
    • In my hometown there is a rail line that hasn't been used since the 50's or so. Recently, some construction workers showed up and started fixing the tracks so that they could be used again. There was an emergency town meeting and they quickly voted to not allow the railroad to run again. When they delivered the news to the railroad company they were basically told to fuck off because the rail line was under federal juristiction and they had no say in the matter. It was a great outcome, because probably only 2% of the town cared either way but the ones that cared had gotten themselves elected.

      This whole cell tower situation reminded me of this little story, because it's the small portion of the community that cares wether there are cell towers around that actually expend the effort to get elected to some crappy local government position. Most of the time they run uncontested, or against someone with the same obnoxious opinions that are so unpopular that they only way that they can get what they want is by running for local office and winning. They are usually opposed to any change to their town because it wouldn't be that same as where they grew up anymore so they stand in the way of all proposals wether they are good or bad. Maybe if we had direct representation on the local level for issues like this things would be better (I know in my area that there are more people that want the new cell services then people who don't want the antennas), but if people don't care enough about these issues to speak up or go to town meetings, then they probably wouldn't go to vote either... Then again maybe town governments elsewhere aren't as screwed up as where I live.

      Between the houses on Main street not getting painted because they can't figure out which color is 'historically appropriate', and the crappy cell coverage I'm starting to get a little pissed off. At this rate we'll either be stuck in whatever time period they deem historically apropriate and not make any progress, or the town will slowly decay due to process delays.
  • Japan rocks! I lived there for two years and the tech roll out and innovation is second to none.
    • Now hang no there mister! As an American I can assure you that my country is on the leading edge of technology. My notebook computer weighs less that 6 pounds, and my cell phone can use analog and digital networks!

      And don't get me started on our superior automobile technology!
      • Not to mention that if you develop better technology, we have the technology to destroy it.
      • a) Your laptop was probably made in Japan.

        b) No matter how advanced you think your latest toy is, there is always something more advanced in the Tokyo stores.

        One of my favourite pastimes when I lived there was to go to the first floor of the Yamagiwa main store in the Akihabara electric district to oogle the new toys that wouldn't show up in the States for months if ever.
        • Interesting. Too bad they don't sell devices that can DETECT SARCASM.

        • You have got to be kidding! Yamagiwa is overpriced
          and they don't give out as many *free gifts*
          when you buy stuff.

          Now Ishimaru denki is where I used to shop
          for electronics (non-computer/PC) Got a great
          deal on a Yamaha AV AMP. Funny thing was, it
          was discontinued and still more advanced
          than the models in the US, at the time I bought it

          Ah Sigh, I MISS Japan.. Kaeritai!

  • Whoop Dee Doo (Score:3, Offtopic)

    by jo42 ( 227475 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:32PM (#2374668) Homepage
    > it's like 384k downlink. To your phone. Once again, my jealousy runs rampant.

    No need to be jealous...

    Take a piece of large paper. Cut a hole in it 1.5" by 2.25". Cover your monitor with this piece of paper. Now start using your computer like this and you will experience things just as if you had this service on a cell phone in your neck 'o the woods.

  • OK, except for videoconferencing. But still, I think it's un petit peu de overkill here! Now laptops plugged into said cellphones...mmmm, that I could get used to =)
  • by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:33PM (#2374677) Journal
    A while back I read somewhere (Slashdot I think) that the military was not releasing the frequencies that were originally allocated for 3G phones... Does this mean the Japanese will have 3G all to themselves while we suffer from 2.5G for the next 10 years??? Anyone out there know??? Is GPRS still gonna happen??
    • GPRS phones are now on sale in the UK (and if we've got 'em, American's must have had them for ages!). However, it's currently still over a circuit-switched link - that is, the phone establishes a channel to the server, just like for a voice call or WAP, and then sends data down it, using PPP or summat similar. However, you still only get charged per kb (well, "only" - 1kb is very small, plus the minimum packet length is about 170 chars I think, so it'll cost a bomb - not for me yet). At least that's on this side of the Atlantic. Any Americans care to enlighten us?
      • by DGolden ( 17848 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:46PM (#2374770) Homepage Journal
        (and if we've got 'em, American's must have had them for ages!)

        Actually, america currently lags behind europe in mobile technology - partly because the americans had a bout of NIH syndrome the first time round (remember the GSM-works-everywhere-but-the-US fiasco), and partly because they have a rather lower population density.

        European firms could have jumped straight to 3G, but all firms concerned got together and decided that it would be more profitable to force consumers through an extra upgrade cycle, so switched their attention to 2.5G, which is the Windows ME of the phone world.
        • Also North American [land] phone systems are much cheaper, and in many cases more reliable than their counterparts in Europe. The cost of adding an additional mobile phone to a European home was similar to the cost of adding a land line, but with obvious benefits. Only recently have prices on cellular phone services come close land line prices in North America.
      • > Any Americans care to enlighten us?

        Sure. Read my lips: not GPRS in the US yet. We're too busy developing the disposable cellphone to lower the costs of changing carriers. The upshot? Once we DO have wireless broadband, it will be on paper phones that you cut out from the back of Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

    • GPRS is starting to be rolled out in the USA (IIRC). AT&T Wireless began rolling it out in Seattle, and presumably, the rest of the USA (I have no knowledge of the rest of North America, including Canada & Mexico).

      Also, larger cell phone companies like Sprint, Verizon, etc, are beginning to test their CDMA2000 networks, I'm sure too, which (according to theory) will provide significantly higher data rates and better voice clarity.
  • i hope so. the thing i am wondering about is, how quickly are providers going to implement the service around the world. my bet is, everyone is going to take their time, to wait and see.
    understandable, when you think of the kind of money involved here.
    so the question remains. are people going to make the investment or not.
    as good and cool is this sounds, right now i wouldn't!
    what's your take on that?

  • "In the United States, we have been working to make the service available. But we have not set any date for the US launch."
    That's unfortunate, but at least we have a decent landline system here... I know Europe definately a lot more expensive that here for landline phone/internet. I think that will be one of the factors that will keep sweet things like this from catching on really quickly.
    • I know Europe definately a lot more expensive that here for landline phone/internet.

      What are your data for that? It costs 8 cents a minute to call from Sweden to Missouri, while it costs ~12-15 cents a minute to call long-distance within Missouri! Phone service is $15/month in Sweden, here in Missouri it is more like $30-40!
  • Do these new services work with the same towers that provide NTT service to existing customers? Is this overlayed? How does this work?
  • by psych031337 ( 449156 ) <psych0.wtnet@de> on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:37PM (#2374709)
    From e/1530436l.htm

    The standard model costs about 48,000 yen ($400) while the fancier video model costs about 68,000 yen ($570). The data model can be had for about 28,000 yen ($235).
  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:38PM (#2374712) Homepage
    Why on god's earth do I want to watch a movie on my cellphone? Convergence, as with all things, is best in moderation. The irony of this is that we'll have people watching movies on cellphones and talking on cellphones in movies. Then after the movie is over they'll get in their car and watch TV and talk on their phone WHILE they are driving.

    Theory: it was recently demonstrated that multi-tasking causes the human brain to be less efficicent. An increasing tendancy to do more than one thing at a time will lead to an overall reduction in the productivity of humanity. Because the time we spend will be less productive we will have to spend more time partially working in order for us to achieve the same output. This will lead to more multi-tasking. Wash, Rinse, Repeat...
  • as far as bandwidth is concerned, when i worked for Sprint PCS, they were throwing around the "144 kbps" number for a long time. This was supposedly going to be the first step toward full 1.5 Mbps downstream about 2-3 years from now. But then again, with Sprint, everything was just talk, talk, talk... they were supposedly going to have their first 3G cells in place by early August, but they fell through on that promise.

    However, once the spectrum disputes are over and the major players are back to their money-grubbing game, i'm guessing 144 kbps - 320 kbps would be the entry level bandwidth here in the states, mostly because it would require the least amount of transitional work in the packet switching department...

  • Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HongPong ( 226840 ) <hongpong@hongp o n g . com> on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:38PM (#2374715) Homepage
    ...I believe it's like 384k downlink. To your phone. Once again, my jealousy runs rampant.

    Meanwhile much of the rest of the world struggles to get clean water and electricity. Just a reminder that you need to keep your geek-goodies envy in perspective.

    • by CaseyB ( 1105 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:55PM (#2374826)
      Just a reminder that you need to keep your geek-goodies envy in perspective.

      Yeah! Just think: if WE'RE jealous of this phone, and THEY'RE jealous about the power & water that we take for granted, just think how incredibly jealous they must be about this phone!

      You'd be THE MAN in Ethiopia with one of these!

      • well as long as they set up a 3g tower there, otherwise you'd just be saying: "but normally, you get like video!!!!" "I don't see anything." "But you _would_ in Tokyo, and look! the internet!" "I still don't see anything."
      • You'd be THE MAN in Ethiopia with one of these!

        Actually, I understand cell phones are pretty common in third world countries, because they don't have the infrastructure for hard-wired telephone service.
    • So:

      Other people in the world suffer, so therefore I should stop wanting better for myself?

      I'm failing to grasp your logic.
    • My brother and dad made a Spud-Gun once (you know, big pipe that you stuff some lighter fluid and a potato in and add a spark) and my wife began teasing them about "all the poor hungry kids in Africa". My dad looked at her, grabbed a bag of potatos and said "then send 'em a bag of potatos!"

    • You know, I'm a bona fide, bleeding heart liberal environmentalist, but I'm also a geek. I'm not the least bit conflicted -- being interested in tinkering with gadgets is part of our contribution to the world.

      It is ridiculous to to condemn a technology because it has uses some would find frivolous. The frivolity really amounts to a lack of imagination. We fail to see the possibilities, because we don't have enough of a spirit of play.

      And we shouldn't patronize the third world too much. Sometimes technology can benefit them in surprising ways. Cell phones have been a great boon in some poor developing communities. They use them differently than we do -- they aren't personal devices, but are shared, and in places that aren't served by land lines. It connects them to the world, to family members who have emigrated, to government services.

      A communication device capable of transmitting video would be great, especially where literacy levels are low. They could receive important video instructions: this is how you set a bone, repair a tractor, disarm a landmine, recognize and eradicate a crop pest, or protect your water supply from contamination.

      I'm not being utopian here -- it's not going to end of poverty, but information technology could help the poor of the third world in many small ways.

  • I'm curious how much it will cost per month. Flat rate, or will they charge per bit? Hmmm... streaming a movie on a laptop via my cel during a long commute or something would be nice, but I don't think 600 or 700 megs @ 384k/s comes cheap.
    • Judging by the price of "services" that are currently offered by carriers in the US, you can bet that in addition to being years behind in implemetation, any new features/capabilities will be prohibitively expensive.

      I'm sure they will be content to milk their corporate customers for top dollar for a few years before they lower the price enough to make it practical for personal use. After all, with the average user still impressed by the fact that they can screw a new faceplate on to their Nokia 5190, they won't be under much pressure to roll this out.
  • According to this BBC story []:

    By contrast the upper limit for 3G networks is 2 megabits per second if you are standing still and 384 kbps for those on the move.

    2 megabits to my phone means 2 megabits to my laptop too! I can stand still for that.
    • You're not going to see 2Mb/sec to your mobile anytime soon, believe me. 2 megabits was the standard quoted rates for local picocell networks (such as in an office wireless LAN environment) and even then it's pretty unlikely.

      Recently. 384kbits/sec was the predicted maximum, but even that kinda cut off service for everyone else in the same cell as you.

      Currently Vodaphone (the largest UK mobile operator) are predicting rates of around 64 kbits for their 3G launch which is a bit more likely.

      Still, they're all faster than GSM ;-) (although possibly not GPRS )
  • by kb3edk ( 463011 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:44PM (#2374762)
    Well now, good for the Japanese, another wicked cool new wireless implementation for a country that is already lightyears ahead of the rest of the world. I wonder how long before the Europeans get 3G, though - I heard it's been a bit of a boondoggle over there.

    But what I really want to know why the US is so far behind when it comes to the wireless world. While I don't labor under any sort of naive notion that the US has to be first in *everything* worldwide, this has perplexed me for some time. I don't think it's the technology, is it? Here are some ideas of mine, but I don't know how well grounded they are:

    1.) Settlement in the US is much less dense than Japan or Europe, so there are greater infrastructual expenses involved with new wireless standards
    2.) The NIMBY crowd in the US is more vocal than elsewhere and holds up new infrastructure installations
    3.) Standards are more tightly controlled in Europe/Japan, meaning instead of three cellphone antennas for three different carriers on top of apartment buildings, perhaps there is one shared by all?
    4.) For cultural reasons Americans are not as interested in games, instant messages, internet, and video as Europeans & the Japanese

    -Adam in Philly
    (who still uses a single band PCS phone made in, like, 1997 or something)
    • by sien ( 35268 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:09PM (#2374904) Homepage
      This is comes down to a really a fundamental and interesting question. Comparing US, Japanese and European adoption rates for various technologies is something that should be done more.
      The US leads in broadband adoption, but whether this will continue is another question. US long distance phone rates also were the cheapest in the world for ages. There used to be a whole heap of reverse dial services which would use a US base to place to calls to the destinations and hook up the connection. These services used to be cheaper than a one way connection from many countries.
      I think the US also leads in cable TV subscriptions, but I'm not sure. As for mobile phones, the US is way behind and primitive. I can't believe how much a cell phone would cost me here compared to Europe and Australia.
      The answers that you propose for the differences in mobile adoption are interesting. I think you leave out one thing that really affects the whole game, regulations. In Europe ONE mobile phone standard was set, wheras in the US there are at least 3. The whole market is different. In Japan it's different again. NTT has a monopoly which it can do what it likes with. Sure Japanese phones are neat, and their wireless web is neat, but check the prices !
      Also, I think the other thing to look at the differing business cultures. In the US there is very harsh, hard competition and wrenching of every possible profit. In Europe there is more cooperation and Japan there is a tradition of incredible mixing between companies and the government and a really homogenous population.
      There was an article in Wired a month or two ago when they talked about how successful the wireless web was in Japan, and The Economist has also commented on this. The fundamental question raised in both is whether it was 'a fluke' or something that can be translated all over the world. While it seems that fluke is harsh, it should be said that their are important cultural differences between these markets.
      • sien says:
        "The answers that you propose for the differences in mobile adoption are interesting. I think you leave out one thing that really affects the whole game, regulations."

        Thanks for a very well-informed response. I did mention something similar to this in Idea 3 of my original post. But I thought that maybe it was a proliferation of antennae for different providers, not for completely different wireless standards. If this is the case, 3G could take a *long* time to be rolled out here in the States.

        Also, one other thing I left out is the issue of spectrum. Do three different standards use 3x the amount of spectrum of a single standard elsewhere? I bet it does. And the US military, God bless 'em, probably uses a lot of spectrum here that is used for commercial applications in less militaristic lands like Japan :)

        This is one of those times when I'm glad I'm a programmer and not an electrical engineer.

        -Adam in Philly
    • All of yout points are spot on.

      I think you sig(?) says a lot about why we (American's) almost never see cool techonology while it is new. Americans just won't buy it. Japanese are willing to pay a premium for the latest, smallest, coolest devices. Americans will put up with obsolete devices until the next level has been around so long that it is cheap (because it too has become obsolete).
      How many Americans do you still see with Nokia 5190s? It's pathetic.
    • Actually, some countries countries that are way ahead of us like Finland, have a REALLY low density. We're talking 17 people per sq/km.

      So why does Finland and other low density countries have such a high density of cellphones (>65 cellphones per 100 inhabitants)?

      Standards, Standards, Standards! Can you imagine if NetBIOS, IPX, and TCP/IP were all competing for WAN protocol usage on the Internet? The internet would be mostly useless. Buying different routers and adapters for compatibility, and still not be able to have an AIM go through each type - imagine!

      Most countries in the world (exceptions being North America, Japan [PDC], South Korea [CDMA]), standardized on GSM for digital cellular.. and this was already back in 1992. Hence, there is probably 150 million GSM customers already, who can all roam between networks. The FCC eventually allowed GSM in, much against Motorola's liking, but on the 1900MHz band, thus making interopability a pain in the ass.

      Take America for instance, while AMPS (analog) is dying for the most part as a protocol, you've still got CDMA (Alltel, Verizon), TDMA (AT&T - who is moving to GSM 1900 whenever the economy fixes up), iDen (Nextel), GSM 1900 (Cingular). That means, to cover all these phones, you need *5* base stations. Not only that, other than AMPS compatibility, phones do not generally allow for compatibility between them. So, you've got 5 types of phones manufacturers of all this equipment has to make up for.

      GSM isn't the best, but it means real roaming with real coverage! I can take my Motorola Tri-Band GSM phone, and roam between Cingular in the US, Telia in Sweden, and whoever in Uganda. I can send SMS's between any GSM customer around the world. Try having a Verizon customer send a GSM to a Cingular customer.

      3G is the 'final solution' to this incompatibility mess I'm told. We'll see

      IANACE (I am not a cellular engineer, just some one fed up with cell phones.. flame away at my ignorance!)
      • That means, to cover all these phones, you need *5* base stations.

        You need 5 base stations because you have 5 carriers. This has nothing to do with different standards, each carrier would need their own towers even if they all were GSM.

        Also, the fact that 900/1800MHz GSM is not available in the US has to do with spectrum allocation. I believe that these bands are used for something else here, unlike the 1900Mhz band that was eventually allocated for cellular phones.

    • I'm not really an expert (although I work in the US in the wireless industry) but here are a few other ideas here.

      1) It is true that the lower population density in the US is a factor.

      2) Americans have (in my lifetime) always had no charge for local calls from thier home. The only calls we paid for were long-distance calls. If I recall correctly, this hasn't been the case in many places outside the US. So Americans were slower on the uptake with the pay-for-every-call thing, and the pay for incoming calls thing.

      3) What's the killer app? In Japan, the killer app for the 2.5g stuff was interactive directions to get to different places because their streets tended to be pretty confusing (grid style urban planning as used in the US really didn't get started before most of the cities in Europe and Japan were built). I'm not sure why, but I've never really wanted to do the email over the phone thing. Voicemail is easier do send, but harder to read. Combine voice mail with caller id, and you havee something that's good enough. I sure as hell don't want to compose messages on that tiny little keypad. I'm wating for a better interface, I guess.

      One interesting note on the Japanese market:

      Japan rolled out the first cell phone market around 1980. However, the Japanese phone monopoly had such a closed market that there was no innovation. By the early '90s Japan still only had around 100,000 wireless subscribers. Meanwhile the US and Europe had subscriber bases in the millions. It wasn't until the US, working on behalf of Motorola, made it a big deal in some trade talks that Japan deregulated. Prior to that, you couldn't buy your own phone, you rented it from your provider (I assume that was DoCoMo) and there was very little in cool features available. After deregulation they went from 100,000 to 3,000,000 subscribers in only a year or two, and quckly had the most advanced wireless consumer base in the world.

      If you think I am wrong in that, its possible. I am doing it from memory of either an Economist or Reason article I read a year or so ago.

      I don't think that the NIMBY types are really slowing us down too much. Mostly that's been a problem in semi-rural areas like small towns in Vermont or the southern Appalachians (in the cases I've heard of) and probably in more upscale Californian coastal communities. In Colorado, on I-25 between Colorado Springs and Denver, there's a great example of what the Cell-phone companies are trying to do to minimize the aesthetic objections. They have cell towers that are made up to look like trees. They're typically much less attractive than artificial Christmas trees, which I don't like to begin with.

      • They have cell towers that are made up to look like trees. They're typically much less attractive than artificial Christmas trees, which I don't like to begin with.

        Those Damned things are uglier and catch my eyes more than regular radio towers.

        I know its off topic but these things are so ugly, its got to stop. No more fake antennas. If you want to disguise cell phone antennas, the best way is just to mount them on top of buildings. If buildings are not available - capitalize on topographical features. If the area is completely flat without any buildings, build a cell phone tower to make it more interesting.

  • until then i'm pretty glad we got GPRS and "2.5G" here (sweden). a 115kbps link is a-ok with me.
  • I know this was one of the proposals when the 3G specs were first being drawn up -- have a single standard that TRULY is worldwide.

    For instance, when I'm travelling in Japan, I need a PDC phone that is proprietary to Japan, when I'm in the states, I need a Sprint CDMA phone (GSM in the states sucks), when I'm travelling in the rest of the world, I need a GSM 900/1800 phone, etc...

    Is this still the plan, or do we still have to deal with a hodgepodge of incompatible standards?
    • GSM in the states only sucks if you live in the States. I have a dual band GSM 900/1900 phone (the Nokia 8890) and live in Europe. I have excellent access whenever I visit the US (which is often) as I usually remain in metro areas.

      Even things like retrieving voicemail and full SMS back home is fully supported.

      As far as I am concerned, global roaming is here now. What is really missing though, is a) cheap roaming (the roaming charges are ridiculously expensive the world over), and b) cheap data access. My provider charges me for data access outside my 100 free minute plan, and data access while roaming, that's just out of the question, financially, not technically. 2.5G or 3G hopefully may solve that...
  • Yeah, imagine how cool you'll look holding your cellular phone in front of your face so the other party can see you. As for that 300k+ connection, what good is it if the phone doesn't come with a 20GB hard drive and a copy of Morpheus? The masses will never accept this.
  • First of all, could we have this submission translated into English for those of us who don't breathlessly read news sites for information about telephones? "DoMoCo" must be a company, but what's "3G"? Third generation?

    Second, video cellphones? Doubles as a camera? So how does that work? I pull the phone away from my ear and hold it up to my face so I can see a 1 in^2 image of my friend (and he can see me) then quickly jam it back to my ear so we can talk? Until the device overheats or the battery goes dead?

    Video phones over *regular* lines exist today but nobody is buying them. Why would I want a video cellphone?
  • Here [] are the specs from the DoCoMo web site. 64 Kbps for real-time video, max 384K bps downlink, 64K bps uplink. Decent (but not great) battery life, too.
  • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:00PM (#2374849) Homepage
    Here's my prediction ("All the authority and accuracy of Gartner (i.e. None) without the cost" (TM)):

    3G is going to be dead in the water, at least for the next few years (5-10) here in the states. Why?

    Because what it delivers can be done for MUCH less money. High speed wireless *is* a very cool thing, and very desirable. The problem is the cellular phone isn't the application for it. In reality, who wants to watch a movie on a small screen if you have to pay for it? Who wants to pipe music down the phone if you have to pay for it? These services are not going to be cheap (someone's got to pay for all of those licenses). What reason does a cellular *need* 300+kbps?

    The only reason you would want that speed to your phone is if you have it hooked up to a PDA or a laptop. That's the only "killer app" I see for high speed internet. And if that's the case, there are better and cheaper ways of doing it. Think the "Freenets" that have been talked about on /. as of late. The infrastructure cost for some 801.xx network is *much* less than 3G service. Its a fairly open protocol, so you won't get locked into Sprint / AT&T / WorldCom / et al's service.

    I see cellular service sticking with 2.5 G here in the states. That allows you to do all the things that are a cellphone actually does well (voice, some limited data: e-mail, texting, *simple* WAP). For high speed data that you'd need for your laptop/PDA, look for the commercialization of 801.xx (or something similar).

    So says the Bastard
    • 3G can deliver 384k while you're moving. Without a lot of clever routing, freenets aren't going to do that for you.

      Freenets are for using your laptop on a park bench or in a coffee shop. 3G is for in your car, or for content direct to your phone.
      • But how big of an advantage would that be? Is it worth paying the $$$ premium for? (I'm not sure, but I can't think of any mass market situation where I that type of access warrents the extra $$$, and I don't think the G3 service is going to be cheap, at least not in the beginning). Maybe in a niche market, but not in a broad market.

        The problem I see is that only a handful of providers have the deep pockets to do G3, and so far its turned out to be a lot harder (and a lot more expensive) than anyone thought. A 801.xx type network, though, has a lower barrier of entry. I see a lot of smaller, regional companies doing pretty creative stuff with the technology, and then consolidation of the the industry over time (think the ISP market from 1995-2000). Sure, the technology isn't as good as what's proposed with G3, but the pricing will more than make up for it.
  • by MadCow42 ( 243108 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:04PM (#2374872) Homepage
    If you add GPS (as in the E911 service in the other article today), you not only location-based advertising, but location-based information.

    "you're currently at bus stop #445... there will be a bus there in 2.3 minutes, time enough for you to get a coffee at Starbucks, 27m around the corner. There is a lineup of 2 people currently, and average serving time is 43 seconds."

    It's not THAT far fetched... and although advertising pays for many of these services, it's not necessarily a bad thing in all cases (if handled right, and opt-in).


    • GPS will aid GSM, but you can do without it.
      In cities, GSM can give you position information in with an accuracy of about 100m []. Which suffices for several location based information.
      PHS [] systems will provide an accuracy from up to 100m, too.
      Telcos currently know in which cell you are and how far you're away from its base station. Sometimes, they even know your distance from a second base station.
      This is already used to offer differentiated price schemes and (e.g cheaper rates in your home cell (no pun intended)) location based services in at least Japan [] and Germany [], and BT [] has invested [] quite a amount for wcities [], some location-based information service provider (a new buzzword, rejoice).
      As you may see it's not far fetched, it's already (to some degree) there and it is considered as the next goldmine (or at least the investors hope so)

      This doesn't necessarily requires advertisement as it can be seen as a advertisement in itself.
      The providing telco can use it as argument to differentiate itself from other telcos.

      Nonetheless, I think it'll surely lead to advertisement. The whole thing reminds somehow of
  • As in NEVER. Ever.

    Why? - well damn if they can send a man to the moon then those there geekers in NAZER should be able to get me mah TV phone lika Dick Tracy.

    There is simply too much money to be made with the crappy service you already get and no incentive to cooperate in billing or roaming systems. I mean who do you think actually bought the congressmen and the FCC leverage? The phone companies.

    Look at it another way. The spectrum auction drove the prices so high that phone companies no longer have the billions of dollars it would take to actually deliver the service. And you know what? That was the plan. Keep it on the shelf and off the market from anyone else so they could suck dollars for 1G 2G service now.
    • The spectrum auction drove the prices so high that phone companies no longer have the billions of dollars it would take to actually deliver the service.

      Yeah, but that also happened in Europe. That's one of the things that's got Lucent and Nortel and Marconi in the crapper in Europe. No one can afford equipment because they're overextended in spectrum.

      One of the other big special interests in the US mix is broadcast television. Little UHF stations that just broadcast home shopping are guaranteed access to cable markets. They're also guaranteed the right to hold on to their current spectrum through the ten years or so of the phase in period for HDTV (assuming it even happens). The TV UHF bands were part of the planned expansion room as 3G started gobbling spectrum, and now that's not gonna be freed up for a while.

      Contrary to what they say in all those WTO chat rooms, not everything is a corporate plot to screw the little guy. Sometimes its just stupidity.

      Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence
      - Hari Seldon
  • by Panu Hällfors ( 17041 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:22PM (#2375002) Homepage
    I don't know what you call the 3G, but here in Finland it currently stands for GPRS (General Packet Radio System). You can see the really fast WCDMA in the blurred future only.

    In Finland the maximum bandwidth of GPRS networks will be something like 20 - 30 kilobits per second during the next few years. This is due to the lack of advanced coding schemas (the starndards are here for up to 155kbps but no-one has implementations) and not allocating all 8 timeslots of the communication channel for GPRS (this will, however, not be the case in other countries shere GSM is not used as much as here).
    However, if they really have the WCDMA working it's something very cool. And bloody expensive.

    Source: GPRS for Application developers course at Ericsson last summer.


  • ...are over 10 million people.

    That kind of population density allows the rollout of things like PCS, i-mode, 3G, etc.
  • I won't care one bit about 3G until I can actually get a call through in a real-world setting. It's very common that I have to redial the number 5-10 times in downtown San Francisco during peak hours just to get through the network congestion. For providers who have oversold their service, everyone competes for a channel in their overloaded cell. And now they want to increase the bandwidth? How about taking the 256Kbps or 2Mbps or whatever the hell the limit is and use it to support more channels?

    ObProvider: Cingular Wireless
  • It's my personal opinion that 3G is only going to be really useful in Japan and the technofetishist desire for it's use here is just silly. I mean look at it, what the fuck are you going to use a 384k download for on a fucking cell phone? We don't have anything remotely like i-mode here in the states, you might respond with wireless internet but i-mode is NOT the internet. The closest thing you can compare i-mode to is AOL in 1995. You paid for AOL access and got exactly that, access to AOL's internal network. Everything was hosted and maintained by AOL. I-mode though lets individual companies put up i-mode pages and allows for a pay per byte akin to charging by the minute on a 900 number. This is very different than in the US where we're trying to adapt either our phones or the internet for use on the phones. From the onset i-mode was designed for the phones and likewise the phones designed for i-mode. It is feasible in Japan to have high bandwidth connections on mobile devices because they are being charged by the byte (or packet I suppose) so they aren't going to hook up a phone to their laptop and download the latest Linux ISO. That is almost exactly what most people want to do with 3G networks assuming they proliferate in the US due to some miracle involving bandwidth and the military. Any time 3G networks are mentioned here everyone goes into "DSL replacement" mode where they look for yet another avenue of broadband. If DoCoMo somehow offered i-mode here but charged by the byte or packet nobody would use it because we've gotten too used to the internet essentially being free.

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