- Buyers Guide
Realities of 3G launches are far from what operators anticipated just a few years ago, when they committed billions of dollars in 3G fees, adhering to stringent regulatory terms and conditions. According to Allied Business Intelligence (ABI), the number of 3G network launches will peak in 2004, but developed regions may not have complete coverage until 2007. North America will see 3G launches starting in the third quarter of this year. Interestingly, the 2.5G subscriber base for CDMA20001X- and GPRS-based networks have been able to lure large volumes of customers, as operator-specific services like Vodafone Live and Sha-mail offer unique services and contents. EDGE has appeared as a viable alternative to 3G due to its increased voice capacity and higher data speeds. With a substantially lower development cost, many operators have EDGE in their deployment charts. ABI anticipates about 15 EDGE network launches in 2003. Though EDGE networks will be in the spotlight this year, operators may be forced to launch 3G networks in the long run. The expected crunch in voice capacity will eventually force the hand of many operators to move to 3G networks.