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Mobile

Commentary: Verizon makes a good start

By jumping out first in the market for next-generation 3G wireless service in North America, Verizon Wireless brings sharper attention to the developing packet data market.

By Phil Redman, Gartner analyst

By jumping out first in the market for next-generation 3G wireless service in North America, Verizon Wireless brings sharper attention to the developing packet-data market.

See news story:
Verizon Wireless unleashes 3G service
Verizon's launch of 1XRTT packet data over CDMA technology, however, is not the U.S. debut of new digital packet data services. AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless and VoiceStream Wireless have offered their versions since mid-2001, using GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technology. Sales have proved lackluster, however, because of high costs, lack of terminal devices and slower-than-expected transmission speeds.

Verizon wisely positioned its service as an initial launch and qualifies its claims for coverage, speed and costs as it evolves the service toward full availability, scheduled for year-end 2002. This caution should help Verizon avoid the kind of hype that surrounded Wireless Application Protocol services, which have yet to match market expectations.

In the wireless world, coverage drives adoption. Verizon is introducing its 3G service in 20 percent of its network, covering 53 million points of presence. Gartner does not believe that this coverage is adequate for a business user--the market for the service. Therefore, businesses will likely delay signing on until 2003, after they've had a chance to evaluate coverage, more 3G devices become available and pricing becomes clearer.

Sprint PCS plans to launch its packet data services to match its voice coverage by the middle of 2002, which makes its offering more useful for mobile workers. Its advantages will be IP compatibility, reduced latency and higher speeds--likely 40 to 50 kilobits per second, with bursts to 70 kbps, compared with GPRS, which offers 20 to 30 kbps today.

(For a related commentary on U.S. Federal Communications Commission lifting caps on the amount of spectrum a wireless carrier can own, see gartner.com.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2002 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.