4G services using 3G networks; Where are we heading for?

Apple’s iPhone was introduced in Korea, December, 2009, where the timing was a bit late as compared to the global schedule. There was a rumor that the introduction of iPhone and Blackberry was delayed to protect Korean mobile phone manufacturers in the domestic market. But anyway, since then, the smart phone phenomenon, like the “dot com” bubbles in late 90’s, has stroke the country, which is still ongoing, I would say. Apple, LG and Samsung are dominating the market, whereas HTC, Nokia and Motorola are trying to catch up but most people expect that it will take some more time, at least in Korea.

Looking at the services and applications of those smart phones, it seems to me that people already enjoy 4G services with 3G networks. On the other hand, 2G, 3G and 4G (IMT-advanced) have been keywords of wireless industry over the last two decades.

One interesting business experiment is currently being undergone by Korea Telecom (KT), to cover the entire nation, the most highly populated and wired country in the world, with WiFi APs. They broadcast the increasing number of WiFi APs in their webpages (http://wifi.qook.co.kr). As of October 11, 2010, there are 37,344 KT APs throughout the country.

If you ask about 3G phones to the people on the street in Seoul, probably they will question you, “Are you asking iPhone 3G or Android 3.0?” It is needless to mention they don’t know what IMT-advanced or WCDMA is about.

Where are OUR 4G, 5G or “n-th” generation systems heading for? Is it beyond increasing bit pipelines or introducing m*n MIMO systems? Or is it now time for us to lean back and to think of re-defining the generations of wireless system evolution?

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3 Responses to 4G services using 3G networks; Where are we heading for?

  1. Jens Zander says:

    I totally agree – we are beyond the PHY-layer characterization of “G”s now. Who for instance know or cares what “x” you have in “xDSL” as long as the date rate is high. The PHY-layer standard is never used in advertising there, unless you go to optical. And we now of course that the date rates nowadays a limited by the number of base stations/access points that are deployed.

  2. Jens Zander says:

    By the way 37000 WiFi access points cover < 1% of the area of Rep of Korea, i.e. not much. On the other hand each access points covers on the average 16 persons (!), which in practice means a lot more people if deployed in (extra) dense areas.

    I Sweden 37000 access points would cover less that 0.2% of the area and about 0.5 person/access point. So the business models are quite different.

    • Seong-Lyun Kim says:

      ..interesting to see how “flexibly” the consumers adapt themselves to the deployed wireless infrastucture. Smartphones somehow contributed to such trends, removing “gate keepers” in mobile terminals. For example, one can now Skype over the cellular networks.

      In my posting, I made a mistake: 37,444 is not the number of APs, but the number of WiFi Zones. A zone may have many APs (e.g., department store). The number is increased by 200 after two days, and is now 37,607, starting to cover subways (with WiMAX enabled WiFi AP, called “egg”).

      KT is the #2 mobile operator, following #1 SKT. Their business strategy is interesting.,,

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