Tech Time: 3G Hype

Driving from the Digital 3-D theatre to home, 3G posters where everywhere, promising faster speed and better features than my ‘old phone’. But is it all hype?

No and yes. Let’s start with the no. 3G promises and delivers on:
· Always on connectivity at LAN like speeds
· Hot multi-media services with streaming audio and video
· Powerful email and no problems with large attachments
· Cool instant messaging with audio and video clips

But everything has a price, for 3G the price is not cheep ... literally. 3G services are more expensive than their 2G counterparts. And you need newer, more sophisticated phones to take advantage of the benefits. That is just another way of saying ... more money.

Locally, two telecoms provide 3G services, Claro and LIME. Claro rolled out its 3G service first and in a big way with broad coverage outside of Kingston and the corporate area. LIME introduced the service to its customers recently with guaranteed service in Kinston, St. Andrew and parts of St. Catherine. Digicel plans to rollout 4G on a super secret timeline I have not yet been able to crack.

Business and high end users will relish in 3G. Real time office telecommuting becomes possible, even practical.

Let’s move to the yes. Most mobile phone users don’t need or want the speed and related features. Let’s face it, a large part of the population uses a mobile phone for exactly what it was intended to do, make phone calls. Most importantly, a large part of the population lives outside of Kingston and Corporate Area.

For these users, 3G has little or no practical application. No need to buy a new expensive phone, no need to spend more on network access. No need to have a shorter battery life.

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