Mobile Users Will Only Get 14Kbps, Says Analyst

Vendors are promising new mobile products which will deliver bandwidth of 115K bps (bits per second), but this is only a theoretical speed which will never happen, according to Nigel Deighton, research director at Gartner Group Inc. In reality the new products, such as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) phones, will only deliver bandwidth of 14K bps, he said.

The vendors assembled at a keynote panel discussion at the Gartner Group's Spring Symposium here today all agreed with Deighton. However, most argued that the consumers don't actually have the same expectations as the industry, so the end users will not be disappointed.

"The main disappointment for the consumers will be that there won't be enough terminals (wireless devices) out on the market," said Benny Wahlqvist, director, business development at Ericsson Business Consulting, who was one of the panelists. "People will be so enthusiastic about everything they can do with a WAP phone, they will want more."

"It is us, in the industry, who have these high expectations," said Joakim Fjalling, director of business consulting at Microsoft Corp, implying that consumers don't have the same expectations.

But not everyone agreed with him.

"This guy is living on another planet," Deighton said after the panel discussion, adding that consumers are very well aware of the marketing messages coming through from vendors.

"You (vendors) are concentrating too much on content. The users don't want content, they want service," said Nick Jones, vice president of Gartner Group.

The keynote panel discussion today addressed a number of issues regarding the future of wireless technology, in connection with the fact that the number of cellular users is more than double that of Internet users today, according to Gartner Group. Now, however, new technology is bringing these two user groups together.

The greatest return on investment for corporate users of mobile phones in the future will be in reading and responding to e-mail and instant messages, said Wahlqvist. "Business is moving so fast these days, most people need to check their e-mail every two hours to make sure they don't miss out on any opportunities," he said.

Georges Boulloy, vice president worldwide product line management mobile phones at Siemens AG, argued that the greatest return on investment will come from computer games integrated into mobile phones.

The panel went on to discuss what mobile phones will look like in three years time. Both Boulloy and Wahlqvist agreed that users won't have just a single mobile phone that can do everything; most will have several. When a consumer is on the golf course he or she will need a small device, said Wahlqvist. But when he or she is travelling they will need a bigger device with voice recognition and a reasonably sized screen.

Also participating in the panel discussion moderated by British Broadcasting Corp. news anchor Peter Sissons was Val Rahmani, vice president of IBM Corp.'s communications sector in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The Gartner Group Spring Symposium finishes today.

Gartner Group, in Stamford, Connecticut, can be reached at +1-203-316-1244 or on the Web at http://www.gartner.com/.

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