Bob Egan's weekly column
October 1, 2004 issue
Enterprises considering the use of DO or UMTS when (re)negotiating contracts should proceed carefully and are well advised to seek concrete timelines and service level agreements from operators on DO/UMTS in their critical use areas. DO suppliers are Verizon and Sprint (planned). EDGE and UMTS suppliers are AT&T, Cingular and T-Mobile (predicted 4Q04).
Key observations that we believe will impact enterprises through 2005
- DO is fast, but slow in terms of roll-out. Verizon's DO coverage is still limited to major cities, and Sprint won't have DO in more than a handful of cities until late 2004 – if then. Enterprises in DO markets should ensure that service is available throughout the entire metro. For example, although Verizon's coverage map shows DO coverage throughout Kansas City, media reports indicate that it's available in only half of the city. The message: Don't trust coverage maps alone.
- EDGE is improving in terms of performance and competition. AT&T has begun deploying R4, which cuts EDGE's latency in half, to 300-500 milliseconds, the same as 1xRTT. We predict that T-Mobile will finally venture into EDGE before YE04.
- DO appears to be emerging as a viable alternative to Wi-Fi hot spots. Case in point: Verizon's DO is now available in two dozen major airports.
- UMTS will roll out in fits and starts, just like DO. AT&T currently offers UMTS in only six cities, although its pending new owner, Cingular, is pressuring vendors to deliver UMTS infrastructure for more deployments n 2005. However, we expect coverage to remain spotty throughout 2005, due primarily to the challenges of Cingular's spectrum requirements. With average rates of 220-320 kbps, UMTS will be like DO: Nice, if you can get it.
- Upgradeability remains key. We reiterate our advice from one year ago: Although we remain skeptical about DO becoming enterprise grade by even YE05, CIOs and IT managers planning to use 1xRTT are well advised to buy DO modems – which are backward-compatible with 1xRTT – to save future capital and support expenses when migrating to DO. Then exploit DO where it's available subject to our guidelines noted above. We now apply the same advice to EDGE: Enterprises should ensure that all new EDGE devices support or are upgradeable to R4.
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