T-Mobile Dances to Googles Tune

By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2005-10-06 Print this article Print

Opinion: Don't ask users to believe that Google Talk on T-Mobile phones will beat broadband.

When someone starts trying to imply that mobile phones are faster than home broadband, either that person is ignorant, or youre being teased. When Rene Oberman, CEO of T-Mobile here in Europe, starts explaining that theres a "whole new world" of Internet access because T-Mobile will move to an exciting new technology called HSDPA next year, I cant believe its ignorance. Hes having us on.
The best you can hope for from HSDPA is 1.8M bps. Download. If youre within a few feet of the 3G phone mast. When nobody else is trying to download anything. As long as your battery holds out. Next year. Fourth quarter. As long as youre not indoors and it isnt raining hard.
And the upload speed is going to be 64K bps. Thats fax speed. You dont get to be CEO of one of Europes "tier one" mobile networks without knowing this sort of stuff. So is there something Rene doesnt know? Something that makes him think that broadband is stuck at 200-odd kilobits per second? I doubt it. Germanys broadband market is, mostly, ISDN-based; not terribly fast. But even so, all Europes cable operators are fibre to the street; were starting to see 10M-bps downloads. And ADSL (asymmetric DSL) Version 2 is going to be close to that, come year-end 2006. Click here to read more about Google Talk. Whistling in the dark? No, I think the truth is that Google is calling the shots. As I analyse the news in NewsWireless, the question which needs to be tackled isnt, "Does Oberman know how wireless works?" because he obviously does. But does he know how Google works? The key point about T-Mobiles new Internet service, WalknWeb, isnt that its new. Its news, which isnt quite the same thing, but its only news because people dont read Opera press releases on the Opera Web site. Opera announced WalknWeb back in June. What Opera didnt say was that the home page of WalknWeb will be Google. The fact of the matter is, T-Mobile is being used by Google as a weapon in its battle for supremacy in "presence"—a market which is now fiercely contested on the desktop, and which is just starting to move out of the corporate cube farm and into the pocket. Mobile presence is the name of next years game. Read details here about AOLs IM presence campaign. Read the AFAICS Research report on digital paper. It will widen your eyes: It shows that virtually all poster sites will be capable of responding to individual passers-by in a future that is much closer than you think. It also suggests that portable technology in the very near future is going to be lighter, brighter, cheaper and more readable than even a good quality TFT (thin-film transistor) flat screen on the typical desktop. And it will all be wireless live. No this isnt the dream that T-Mobile is going to live. For reasons which we can analyse another time, Wideband CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) isnt a suitable workhorse carrier—but its a good emergency backup carrier. Next Page: The future of "presence" advertising.


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