cdma2000 1X-EV doubles the downlink capacity of IS-95 cdmaOne systems – to 2.4Mb/s – and supports both data and voice. The most widely deployed version of cdma2000 is 1X-EV-DO, meaning ‘1 channel, evolution, data only’. By optimising the system for packet data entirely, using a fixed 128 byte packet length whilst giving no consideration to circuit-switched voice, the performance of ‘always-on’ packet data services can be optimised.
According to Qualcomm it supports 3.1Mb/s and 1.8Mb/s on the downlink and uplink respectively and has increased support for low-latency applications.
EV-DO enables simultaneous VoIP and data traffic. It provides QoS and a genuine multicast facility in which a single transmission is received by multiple handsets in the same cell. The QoS facility is aimed at operators who want to offer tiered pricing arrangements, which enable users to select the priority various kinds of traffic will receive. The system is stated to be capable of automatically classifying packets and applying appropriate QoS arrangements to them.
Several telcos are launching EV-DO services to thwart competition from wireless broadband operators. However, from a commercial point of view it makes more sense to develop a strategy aimed at initially offering the service in the business market. It will start to replace some of the GPRS-based mobile data services used in the business market as a next generation development.
One of the most successful mobile data services in the business market has been Blackberry, the mobile e-mail service. Over the last couple of years operators have been able to sell this service to thousands of corporate organisation, in which it is now used by hundred of thousands of employees. Thanks to Blackberry, many operators have been able to rebalance its mobile data revenue in the business market. Traditionally 90% of this revenue came from SMS, This has now been reduced to 50% (including Premium SMS), with Blackberry taking the other half. Operators are now working hard to get Blackberry working over EV-DO by mid-2005.
The key to success in mobile data for the business market is to be able to seamlessly link this service Microsoft applications such as Outlook.
EV-DO is on the migration path to full-blown 3G systems – it is therefore sometimes also called 2¾G. So it is most likely that these mobile data services also will evolve towards 3G. The problem for users is that they will continuously have to upgrade their user device and, in the case of Blackberry, we are talking close to $1,000 per device. This was flagged as a major stumbling block by the delegates at my recent Roundtable on mobile data and mobile content.
As well as this, the earlier versions of such new devices are notoriously prone to bugs, and business users in particular are not keen to become involved in these early stage developments
With close to a dozen mobile data technologies now available to them, businesses are also very wary of being caught in a dead-end technology street.
Last but not least, mobile-based technologies are expensive and new wireless broadband technologies such as Wi-Max might offer them more capacity and better prices. So we have certainly not seen the end of the developments in this market.
Towards the end of the decade I expect to see a convergence between mobile data and wireless broadband, based on the unifying IP technology.
Technology – Mobile – 2 – 2G – IS-95 CDMA & GSM
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