20070202

embedded 3G+ and better rates

Strategy Analytics expects a 60% boom for embedded 3G in 2007.
Wi-Fi has already found its slot on laptops*, WiMAX's democratization will take some time, and 3G offers the best bitrate / security / continuity of service mix around.
In the transitional period before the industry adopts embedded connectivity, PC cards will not be as trendy as they used to. USB modems are cool and more consumer-oriented. Less PC-oriented, too, since more devices are to become 3G enabled. SKT proved it last year (with T Login**), KTF a few days ago (with iPlug, a SBSM - Single Band Single Mode - W-CDMA service), and Verizon Wireless today (launching its EV-DO Revision A service with the Novatel USB720 modem announced last year).
Laptops are definitely ripe for embedded 3G and if possible, embedded HSDPA. W-CDMA was too light for many applications run on a laptop, and HSDPA keeps rocking and rolling across the globe. Even in Korea, the country formerly known as Qualcommland, where LGT will launch EV-DO Rev A during the second half : both SKT and KTF are dumping cdma2000 for the W-CDMA - HSDPA - HSUPA - HSOPA roadmap, both will enjoy a nationwide HSDPA coverage this year, and both mean business.
KTF, for example, did launch iPlug with a USB data card, but intends to HSDPA-enable 50% of its handset line-up this year and 90% next year. KTF will have migrated half of its customer base from CDMA to W-CDMA and beyond by 2008 and 100% by 2012.
There is already a fierce competition in subsidies, and data rates should follow soon. SK Telecom just decided to reduce the data fee ceiling (and the level from which benefits are given) from 200 to KRW 150,000, and to slash its "Ting Data Free" flat data rates for teenagers by 30%. Officially, heavy bills deter many customers giving it a try without a flat rate offer (a generally binding and expensive item). But if boosting new usages sounds a noble cause, defending leadership may be a more plausible motivation for Korea's leading MNO : KTF proved a better competitor last year and will strike very hard in 2007. A new marketing culture is being pumped into KT's bureaucracies at the best moment : after years of regulatory hurdles, IPTV and quadruple plays will at last blossom in the Land of Broadband.


* it should keep spreading though, as the extension of the fixed sphere it was meant to be, and often on voice-centric devices - as it does through quad play offers
** see "T Login for HSDPA, EV-DO, WiBro and YouNameIt" (20060920). But today, I would be surprised if SK Telecom and Samsung were not considering embedded 3G+ as a part of their recent international partnership.



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