Attack of the Mobile Broadband Gateways

In the fast changing world of telecommunications, the new battlelines have been drawn – between fixed line and wireless service providers. Many wireless carriers believe that they can siphon off a lion share of the fixed line voice revenues, thanks to their ability to cram more voice on their new-fangled 3G networks. And not satisfied, many are hoping to sell broadband access to the PC/Home using a new device called mobile broadband gateway (MPB) which integrates UMTS, WiFi, and Bluetooth technologies into one tiny box that connects to a 3G network.

At CTIA, start-up IPWireless launched its version of MBG, close on the heels of Vodafone and O2 which are going after German home users. IPWireless’ device is battery powered and can create instant hot-spot – Internet connectivity via 3G and distribution via wifi network. The uptake of these MBGs is still up in the air , and the test bed is going to be Germany, where Vodafone and O2 are pushing the service – 384 kbps when you can get it but will boost the speeds when next generation 3G networks go live to over 1 megabits per second. Folks over at Pyramid Research think that there might be some takers for these services – but the competition from fixed line broadband will prove to be too much. Price is a big problem as well. Still, I think if these folks can start offering one megabits per second or higher speeds, they will be able to create headaches for WiMAX and its proponents.