26 of the world´s leading mobile telecommunications companies have come together to set a new standard which is being dubbed “Super 3G”. The companies – which include Japan´s DoCoMo, Vodafone and Siemens – are looking to develop a system which will dwarf the speeds of 3G – the current generation – by up to 10 times.
The standard will be finalized in 2007, with commercial services being rolled out in 2009 through 2010.
The main push for the new standard, and infrastructure, is around multimedia – particularly video. Companies are already looking at ways to provide higher quality screens, for higher definition video – perhaps even on larger screens. In fact, the goal is to have television quality video on cellphones, something that is impossible in today´s 3G world.
The largest hurdle to adoption of the standard is in fact technology. Research to make video and audio compression efficient enough for use on the airwaves – as well as cellphones themselves which lack any serious computer power – is already under way.
The auctioning off of the first 3G licenses in Europe cost winners such as Vodaphone, BT and Orange and estimated $35b. A massive amount of money which still hasn´t been recouped. Expect the bidding for Super 3G to be similarly expensive, though the infrastructure of the cellphone networks will likely be upgraded in the next few years to make the transition more seamless and less costly.