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The next generation of mobile phone technology is going to be very different to current systems, offering fast data services and multimedia content to mobile devices, according to London- based industry analysts Ovum Ltd. Taking a long-term view, Ovum forecasts that the market will develop to 61 million users by 2005, and by 2010 will have overtaken the use of second generation technologies – mobile phones using present day technology – and have 600 million subscribers. While current flavors of digital mobile systems use either GSM or CDMA based technologies which have bandwidth limitations of 9.6Kbps per channel or 32Kbps per channel, greater data transfer speeds can be achieved through using more digital channels – actual connections – to one device, by upgrading network software to enable High Speed Circuit Switched Data services. The practical limit on this is three channels, and there is a limited supply of channels on current mobile networks. The demand for higher speed data new technology will slowly take off, freeing enough bandwidth to offer multimedia data and phone services, such as mobile video telephony, high speed internet access and private network access. Third generation mobile systems, named by Ovum mobile multimedia technology, will use variants on the International Telecommunications Union standard agreed in 1992, called the International Mobile telecommunications 2000 standard, communications systems using around the 2GHz frequency, which are likely to be implemented in Japan by 2000, Europe by 2002 and the US sometime after then. The differentiating factor of the standard is that it provides for high bandwidth connections at speeds up to 144Kbps when moving, or 2Mbps if the device is stationary. Ovum, and the companies it interviewed, were vague as to the kind of use these mobile terminals, ranging from smart phones to laptops, would be put to, and were also unsure as to how other future communications systems would fit into the picture, like the planned networks of Low Earth Orbit Satellites such as Motorola Inc’s Iridium or the McCaw/Gates venture Teledesic Corp. The research firm claimed that the devices would be multi-phase, that is connect to networks depending on the coverage, either a wireless cordless network using DECT, a third generation mobile system, or a satellite system. Ten years isn’t a long time in the telecoms industry, and represents a possible six generations of consumer computer products.


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CBR Staff Writer

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