3.5G provides new optimism from operators

One company that received many mentions by operators at the World Mobile Congress last week failed to turn up. Was Apple unaware that the mobile industry's biggest event was taking place, or maybe it didn't think it was necessary? Whatever, a touch of arrogance that it might regret, as the more established major handset vendors plough their not-inconsiderable resources into combating this upstart.

And all this praise for a product that remains crippled by not having 3G.

A number of mobile operator CEOs, most notably Vodafone's Sarin and Softbank's Son, made specific reference to the performance that HSDPA was providing to the end-user. Sarin even went as far as saying that 3G had not delivered on its promise of delivering mobile broadband, whereas HSDPA was now providing the subscriber with enough performance to enable the mobile Internet to become a reality.

Softbank's Son echoed this by also berating WCDMA for under-performing. For him, HSDPA was the only option in bringing to life his vision of the 'internet machine,' which will enable the InternetInternet to move from being PC-centric today to including the mobile handset as an equal partner.

Looking beyond HSDPA, Sarin made it very plain at the opening keynote session that he didn't want to have competing standards--a plain reference to LTE and WiMAX. His suggestion was to make room for WiMAX to be accommodated with the TDD aspect of LTE, something which other operators said was an obvious and logical suggestion.

However, WiMAX vendors cannot be expected to readily applaud this move, and some LTE developers were also said to be unenthusiastic about the notion.

Regardless of these curmudgeonly views, operators will likely force the hands of the standards bodies and vendors into seeing the light. After all, it is them that place the orders. -Paul