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How Pervasive Will 3G Data Be In The United States?

Business/laptop users will be the first on these [3G] networks, but the real boost in ARPU [average revenue per unit] will come when consumers are hooked on high-speed wireless. That will take cool handheld devices (which are becoming available), and some really great applications. I also think that over time it will require networks to build out high-speed services over a much broader area. Once customers are accustomed to having high-speed wireless data available, falling back to a slower connection is not very appealing.

It boils down to economics, of course. High-speed data will be installed and turned on where there are customers who will make use of it. So I believe that for the next year or eighteen months we will see the high-speed networks being built where there is high demand. Over time, these services will be spreading out across networks. Will it ever reach the point where we will have high-speed data services wherever we have voice? I certainly hope so, but the economics have to be in place first -- which means that we must make broadband wireless data services a must-have for millions of wireless customers.

We will NOT do that by offering browsers in a small handheld device so folks can access the Internet. We will accomplish that by introducing a new set of applications that require high-speed connections: business applications, multiplayer games, and other applications that make it easier to obtain an answer or information via a data connection than via a voice connection.

I am bullish on high-speed data services. I love using EV-DO where it is available and I hate having to fall back to the slower but more ubiquitous 1X network or EDGE. I hope that we can offer the devices and applications to make high-speed data a MUST for customers because the more customers there are, the more of the networks will be enabled with high-speed data.

It is not enough that network operators are deploying high-speed data. They need to work on bringing compelling devices and applications into their stores, training their sales people, and making sure the WOW factor is really there.

Andrew M. Seybold


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