This paper compares and contrasts two technologies for delivering broadband wireless Internet access services:”3G” VS.”WiFi”. The former, 3G, refers to the collection of third generation mobile technologies that are designed to allow mobile operators to offer integrated data and voice services over mobile networks .The latter, WiFi, refers to the 802.11b wireless Ethernet standard that was designed to support wireless LANs. Although the two technologies reflect fundamentally different service, industry and architectural design goals, origins and philosophies, each has recently attracted a lot of attention as candidates for the dominant platform for providing broadband wireless access to the Internet. It remains an open question as to the extent to which these two technologies are in competition or, perhaps, may be complementary. If they are viewed as in competition, then the triumph of one at the expense of the other would be likely to have profound implications for the evolution of the wireless internet and structure of the service provider industry
Speaking broadly, 3G offers a vertically –integrated , top –down , service – provider approach to delivering wireless internet access , while WiFi offers an end –user –centric , decentralized approach to service provisioning. We use these two technologies to focus our speculations on the potential tensions between these two alternative world views. The wireless future will include a mix of heterogenous wireless access technologies. Moreover, we expect that the two world views will converge such that vertically-integrated service providers will integrate WiFi or other WLAN technologies into their 3G or wire line infrastructure when this make sense. The multiplicity of potential wireless access technologies and /or business models provided some hope that we may be able to realize robust facilities – based competition for broadband local access services. If this occurs, it would help solve the “last mile” competition problem that has been deviled telecommunication policy.
3G is a technology for mobile service providers. Mobile services are provided by service providers that own and operate their own wireless networks and sell mobile services to and –users. Mobile service providers use licensed spectrum to provide wireless telephone coverage over some relatively large contiguous geographic service area. Today it may include the entire country. From a user’s perspective, the key feature of mobile service is that it offers ubiquitous and continuous coverage. To support the service, mobile operators maintain a network of interconnected and overlapping mobile base stations that hand-off customers as those customers move among adjacent cells.
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