UMTS / 3G Industry
What is a UMTS network? You take an existing GSM network, add a high speed internet connected data network, install CDMA base stations that enable higher data rates and more accurate location information, then you add more applications to make it mobile internet-like, give fancy color screen multimedia terminal to your customers and your UMTS network is ready. You hope that higher data rates will create a new mobile application industry, that will use all the available bandwidth and you find people who are ready to pay for it. And if all goes well customers learn to call and be called by non-human counterparts and companies see advantages in using the UMTS network as a computer to computer communication path and the good times are back for everyone.
An operator needs about US$2.5B to build a 5,000 base station UMTS network and about the same amount to run the organisation and attract customers to make it profitable. On top of this the operator has to pay for the license and financing. This means that an operator has to come up with an innovative business case to get the funding organised and the network on air. Even much talked about vendor financing does not come cheaply, as this will affect stock prices and future commitments. New alliances and cost sharing arrangements have been created to make it all possible.
Applications are at the heart of the next generation network. It's what it's all about! Faster data rates and mobiles with larger color screens will enable new services to be created giving a new cyber-air-space. Initially it is a combination of the existing Internet and a car navigation system. Soon there will be audio, improved still images, moving images, multimedia mailing and video conference. Then any place turns into a virtual home environment with software agents, remote LAN access points and web browsing opportunities. Home automation, man-machine interaction technologies, mobile asset management, person locating applications and games that make the most of mobility will also be there. Old Internet hit products like email, live events, gaming, gambling, adult content, clubs and chat rooms will also be implemented. If operators can only get the micro-billing right, then business will take off.
New players will emerge from different backgrounds to create new products and business opportunities. Service providers, content providers, value-added applications providers and application developers are all competing for end customer dollars. They are trying to create new user segments to generate a variety of revenue sources. The race for the future earnings has already started. Take a look how the old players are doing at the moment. Here is a selection of stock prices of main 3G players world wide.