Heavy investment to upgrade to fastest wireless networks will delay appearance of 4G standard.
The new wireless standard, called "4G"* is ploughing bravely ahead in Sweden, according to statements at a trans-Scandinavia conference held in early May in Stockholm, but TeliaSonera and other experts expect a surge in users starting in 2012 that will obtain 400 million customers for the high speed service by 2015.
This fourth generation wireless technology runs up to 10 times faster than today's third generation (3G) technology, but substantial hardware investments in the upgrading with new technology is causing companies in the field to hesitate. In particular, these suppliers want to profit from relatively recent outlays for the 3G networks that appeared only seven years ago and which, on a worldwide basis, continue to be purchased and installed.
Although the 4G super-wireless technology was launched last December in Sweden and Norway, it faces the slowdowns during the global recession as well as competition from stand alone personal computers that can already access ultra high speed Internet features through cables and phones.
Today in Stockholm and Oslo, there are about 1,000 customers for the first generation of 4G, but the Swedish-Finnish telecom giant, TeliaSonera, estimates a potential of at least 400,000 in these two capitals alone. Moreover, although the technology delivers instant web page display, rapid file transferring and moving picture video streaming, the operators aren't offering 4G compatible phones for the moment, but rather, waiting for Japan, China and the USA to enter the market and make this step financially feasible.
4G phones should appear on shelves later this year in the US, where Verizon and AT&T have started 4G networks, and Japan is working on its introduction. Analysts said that European operators need to spend around $2.47 billion (€2 billion) per each 500 million inhabitants...not to mention license fees...and with over 350 million residents in the EU, the staggering costs make dividend-hungry investors shudder.
Nonetheless, experts believe that 4G will prevail, albeit some years into the future before it reaches the worldwide saturation enjoyed today by its 3G predecessor. TeliaSonera said that 25 selected Swedish cities will be first to have 4G available, but did not specify a startup date for the service.
* 4G? 4G refers to the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. It is a successor to 3G and 2G standards. The nomenclature of the generations generally refers to a change in the fundamental nature of the service. The first was the move from analogue (1G) to digital (2G) transmission. This was followed by multi-media support, spread spectrum transmission and at least 200 kbit/s (3G) and now 4G, which refers to all IP packet-switched networks, mobile ultra-broadband (gigabit speed) access and multi-carrier transmission. (Source: wikipedia)