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U.S. Will Lead in 3G, So What If You Can't Use the 3G Networks?

Thanks to Apple’s (s AAPL) fast-selling iPhone, 3G-enabled BlackBerry devices and more recently, Google phones, the U.S. will overtake Japan as the country with the largest number of 3G users in the world in 2011. Of course, that lead will be temporary because by then China (and by divine intervention, India) will have launched their 3G networks, according to Telegeography, a market research firm.

news20090804-1.gifThey are predicting that by 2013, when it comes to 3G users, China will be No. 1, followed by the U.S., with India taking the third spot. Japan will slide to the fourth spot. Asia will have twice as many 3G users in 2013 as Western Europe.

I, for one, would like for U.S. companies to enhance their user experience rather than the footprint. I mean, what is the point of having a 3G iPhone when you can barely connect and when you do, the best you get is an EDGE speed? I have lately been testing the BlackBerry Tour, both on Sprint (s s) and Verizon (s vz). Sprint has a better data network, Verizon (s vz) has rock-solid voice. So there you have it — the Westside 3G story.

18 Responses to “U.S. Will Lead in 3G, So What If You Can't Use the 3G Networks?”

  1. Synonymous

    Back the train up. Verizon is pushing to get their LTE network built up starting at the end of THIS year. By the time China surges ahead with the lead in number of 3G subscribers, the US will have 4G up and running with pretty decent coverage. 3G will become the coast-to-coast fallback network until LTE is completely filled in by the end of the next decade.

    To the poster commenting about spectrum, the 700MHz frequency range will go towards LTE build out. The huge benefit here is the greater reach of lower frequency. Higher frequencies may be available, but they’re subject to more interference, blocked more easily by structures, and therefore just don’t have the reach. LTE will utilize the lowest frequency wireless band available to date, and I think people will be surprised with the improvement in coverage and speeds going to 4G/LTE.

  2. Anonymous

    As far as the speeds and connectivity are concerned, it is a question of money. As the operators trap their customers in to 2 year agreements, they have less of an incentive to improve connectivity as it costs them money. Instead, they want to maximize the returns and they seem to find advertising as more cost effective than setting up more base stations. For money reasons, carriers are not supporting Femtocells than can enhance connectivity.

  3. Sidharth

    @om If Mr A Raja has his way we will not have 3G even by 2013. I mean BSNL is providing 3G services and in 4 months they have got around 13000 subscribers ( Until the private players get 3G spectrum it will not take off in India. The daily change in stance over the auctions will ensure that India stays a 2G country for a few more years atleast.

  4. Nikhlesh

    A very good topic Om !!!

    I always think- Will Networks drive innovation in devices or will devices drive advancement in networks? Networks in most of the world have been slow in adoption of 3G and 4G technologies. Japan & South Korea are examples where networks have gone ahead and launched advanced services even when handsets/devices were slow to come. I think its the size of their business coupled with regulatory environment & the fear of trying a new technology which is the problem here.

    India- well you have mentioned 2 words in your post, & they really sum up the situation. Atleast for 3 years, the government has been “trying” to formulate a 3G policy and auction the spectrum.

  5. Jerry Fleckheimer

    I have always found it interesting that these blogs compare AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the context of technology generations. Compared to the rest of the world, only AT&T has a true 3G network. Verizon and Sprint is still working with CDMA which is a direct competitor of TDMA, which I think is 2G. Yes, Verizon and Sprint moved their data networks to EvDO but GSM moved from GPRS to EDGE, but EDGE is not 3G. EvDO is an enhancement to a CDMA 1x network. This is 2G technology and not comparable to AT&T’s true 3G UMTS infrastructure.

    Sorry about that rant. To compare world markets, AT&T is the only entry for America (T-Mobile), so, when LTE comes around, then then world would be able to compare 4G networks, but for now, America is stuck with prodominately 2G intrastructure with CDMA. True technology progression is done on the voice side and not data, it has been in the past 4 or 5 years it has moved to enphasize data. This was a marketing move by CDMA carriers who have skewed the out look on generational divides.

    • Jason Yeung


      EvDO is 3G. The word “3G” is really meaningless and I don’t like it as all 3G means is “third generation” – which is equally applicable for the CDMA or GSM family. In real life, the performance of EvDO Rev A works as well as HSPA. I have had much better speeds and experiences with EvDO compared to HSPA.

      In the end, it depends on the provider. I’ve had much better speeds with Sprint/Verizon than with AT&T.

      – Jason

    • EVDO is true 3G, more so in some cases than AT&T’s 3G. And to be technical, CDMA2000 1xrtt is considered 3G for voice and Data if you want to get technical. CDMA voice doesn’t need evolving, it’s there and it’s stable,

  6. Aaron deMello

    Om, the problem is not so much the providers but really the spectrum. We’re running out of usable bandwidth in the USA, hence the push to release UHF/VHF frequencies to build a bigger broadband data network. You’ll notice that with similar footprint, you have excellent data coverage in Toronto vs New York. That’s because there are less people competing for the spectrum in Toronto. The more iPhones out there, the more contention for that valuable 3G spectrum that AT&T has. The only real solution is to build out more Wifi, but even the 2.4ghz spectrum is getting pretty crowded and noisy these days.

  7. not sure bout other areas currently but I recently moved to ATT and 3Gs…..shot a quick video and sent it to youtube on the fly in under 5min. So far at least in the Dallas area I have been impressed with the 3G speeds ATT provides…..