September 30, 2003

new wireless data services

Verizon Wireless officially launches its new high speed 1xEV-DO data service tomorrow. While the service promises DSL-like downstream speeds of 300-500Kb/s, the rollout is initially limited to the DC area and around San Diego.

AT&T Wireless can't be far behind; they have been promising an EDGE-based service by the end of 2003. At 100-300Kb/s EDGE will be slower than the VZW EV-DO network, but since it is a relatively straightforward (mostly software) upgrade from the current GSM/GPRS system, ATTWS may be able to reach nationwide coverage rapidly.

Meanwhile, I'm turning blue holding my breath for these guys. Get me more bandwidth, *stat*! Oh, and can we please get a consumer class data plan, folks? It seems like the magic price point for all you can eat wireless is $79.99/month no matter what. Today's Sprint PCS and ATTWS GPRS both clock in at 80 bucks for modem rates. Verizon's EV-DO will be $80, but so is it's slower 1xRTT network everywhere else. I understand T-Mobile's GPRS is cheaper, but this doesn't seem to influence the other big players. Go figure. High speed wireless WAN is going to change the game, but eighty dollars is Too Much Money :-P

Oh, and here's something to ponder: when almost-DSL speed is widely deployed and when the price drops down to a more palatable level, say $40/month flat rate, what will happen with hotspots? Hrm, well, that's actually a can of worms because there are a number of forces at play and the answer is potentially quite complicated. But it seems to me that unless we start to see popular services that eat large amounts of bandwidth, public WLAN hotspot operators may find themselves marginalized by WWAN. Hotspot business models that depend directly on subscriber revenue may be even tougher nuts to crack than they already are. If it works out that way it's okay by me, since I think hotspots should be free (as in free lunch) in any case.

Remind me to look at DC and SD in six months to see how it's playing out. Actually, it would be worth looking at S. Korea where they already have widespread 1xEV and hotspots; the Koreans are Net Crazy.

Posted by Gene at September 30, 2003 11:50 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?