3G Go Slow

Remember when UMTS was going to give us 2 Mbit/s? That was back in the megahype days of 2000. Since then, the data rates quoted have dropped lower and lower. And lower.

Now, service providers are talking about UMTS networks that will deliver -- wait for it -- "speeds" of 100 kbit/s or less. Borrrring!

Insight into one of the main reasons for the ever-decreasing bandwidth promises was delivered to Unstrung today by Mark Pittick, marketing director at wireless network vendor startup IPWireless Inc. (which sounds kinda nasty, when you think about that name too long).

Pittick used to be at Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) in the days when it was still taken seriously as a potential UMTS system provider. "We did a study for Vodafone Group plc [NYSE: VOD] to see what it would take to build a network dense enough to provide 384 kbit/s nationwide in the U.K.," says Marky Mark. "We figured it would take about 50,000 base stations and cost $10 billion to roll out. That's one reason why it's starting out at about 80 kbit/s."

Just $10 billion? Surely that's nothing to a man of Sir Christopher Gent's wallet power (see Gent's Golden Shower).

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
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