Phone giants give birth to Super 3G

While the United States has hardly tasted regular old 3G, the big international players are cookin' up the next G.

Jo Best Special to CNET News.com
With the dust barely settled on 3G launches and the wrapping just off the flashy new handsets, the major operators have announced they're working on the follow-up to third generation--christened 'Super 3G'.

Vodafone, NEC, Siemens and Japanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo are among the 26 firms that have signed up to develop the new Super 3G standard, which would transmit data around 10 times faster than 3G's rate, according to reports.

As well as improving gaming and content services, the souped-up network could also mean a real boost for TV-via-mobile and may prompt demand for handsets with high-resolution LCD screens.

The standard is expected to be ready by 2007, with a commercial launch coming some time after 2009.

While British mobile operators have already dug deep to get "first generation" 3G on its feet--spending 22 billion pounds ($41.4 billion) on network licenses--establishing the new-wave third generation network could be equally costly.

According to Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun, DoCoMo--Japan's largest mobile firm--would have to pay 100 billion yen (around $959 million) on upgrading its infrastructure alone for the arrival of Super 3G.

However, mobile video could make the investment worthwhile--according to research firm ARC Group, the market for mobile video will reach $5.4 billion by 2008, with 250 million people using the service.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.