3G Bodies: Angels or Devils?

The two key standards bodies behind the development of 3G technology are both a blessing and curse [ed. note: a blurse?] for the cellular industry, according to the latest Unstrung Insider report -- Uncovering the 3GPP and 3GPP2.

The report investigates the vital and positive role these organizations will play in the future of cellular networking, but finds that these “two-headed beasts” also stand accused of restricting innovation due to turgid operating procedures, lengthy peer reviews, and political wars between equipment vendors.

“Consequently, these consensus-based organizations sometimes lack the foresight required to be of real value to the market,” writes author Gabriel Brown.

Established in December 1998, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a collaboration agreement aimed at developing a set of standards for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) networks.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2), meanwhile, has responsibility for developing standards based around multi-carrier Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) radio technology.

Brown cites the ongoing debate into how handovers between wireless LAN and 3G technologies should work as a perfect example of the 3GPP’s occasional short-sighted approach to dealing with the latest industry challenges.

“While carriers around the world are today wrestling with business models and technologies that will enable them to sell joint subscriptions to wireless LAN and cellular data services, the industry standards they need are languishing on the roadmaps of the 3GPP and 3GPP2,” he laments. As a result, Brown believes the market itself will find solutions to this problem “much faster than the 3GPP.”

Such concerns are echoed by the mixed results of a recent Unstrung survey determining reader opinion on both organizations (see Standards ’R’ Us). Nearly half (49 percent) were damning in their criticism of the 3GPP, branding it a “waste of time and money” and "a conspiracy to shut out the true cellular innovators.”

The 3GPP2 came in for even harsher treatment. Only 28 percent of respondents claimed the body was “a force for good in the 3G CDMA market.” Over a third (34 percent) described it as “a pale imitation of the real 3GPP,” whilst a light-hearted 27 percent mocked it for being “totally unoriginal (couldn’t even think up its own name).”

Despite initial setbacks, Brown is hopeful that both organizations will play a critical role in the future success of the wireless industry.

“It would not be fair to overdo the criticism,” he notes. “The scope of the 3GPP and 3GPP2’s task is enormous in its complexity and hugely ambitious in its aims. Most of us are rooting for their success. It is their effort and dedication that will enable ever-higher data rates to propagate through networks all around the world.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

The full report -- Uncovering the 3GPP and 3GPP2 -- costs $400. An annual subscription to the Insider is ordinarily $1,250, but is currently available at the special introductory price of $899. For more information, including subscription information and research examples, go to: Unstrung Insider.
lrmobile_castro 12/4/2012 | 11:28:40 PM
re: 3G Bodies: Angels or Devils? This is good journalism because it seeks to find out the truth regardless of the implications. We need more journalists/analysts doing this sort of thing.
El Rupester 12/4/2012 | 11:27:10 PM
re: 3G Bodies: Angels or Devils? I do think this is a good report, and there is a load of excellent material & updates.

I'm not quite so sure I agree with the tone or the criticism - that seems a bit harsh.

While 3GPP is far from perfect, I'm not so sure it is that much worse than any other standards bodies.

Winston Churchill's quote about democracy comes to mind: "Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those others that have been tried from time to time"
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