Wed, 17 May 2000

It is 'm' now, succeeding the existing profound 'e'

JAKARTA (JP): One of my grand aunts enthusiastically showed me her new PC set, saying that she could now browse the Internet and "more importantly, I can send e-mails to my children and grandchildren and receive m-mails from them."

She made me smiled as she joked that m-mails stood for mobile- mails as the message senders were always located in different places. She could be correct. One of the most major buzzwords in information technology now is "mobile", not just "electronic".

The era of the "e" world, which is marked by most terms beginning with an "e" prefix, will likely lose out, being replaced by an "m" world.

We are about to encounter the mobile world.

Watch what people are talking about: m-commerce -- mobile commerce, instead of the popularly e-commerce -- this is to make account transactions or payments over mobile phones.

There will also be m-shopping, to order goods, check availability or price and delivery information; m-banking, to check statements and payment and other transactions; m-brokering, information on exchange rate and stocks; m-sign, to confirm orders requiring signatures; m-reservations, for traveling information and request; and so on.

As an initial beginning of the m-world, we now have WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), which permits development of attractive applications and business applications such as Mobile Internet Access (MIA) for subscribers. In this new millennium, the fields of information technology and telecommunications will merge, sparking tremendous potential for private and industrial customers. Increasing numbers of on-the-go subscribers will create a huge mobile market.

The Internet is coming to the palm. WAP permits the delivery of Internet directly to cell phones and hand-held computers. It tailors Web pages to appear on hand-held gadgets.

Telecommunications equipment makers claimed that the next generation of cell phones will have enough bandwidth to function as portable Internet terminals. They said that wireless Internet users will far surpass PC Internet users in a few year.

Patrick Aronson, senior manager of Personal Network Group for South Asia of telecom equipment maker Motorola, believes that many people will use mobile phones to access the Internet for the first time.

"It's the 'm' era. It's estimated that by 2003, the world will have some one billion wireless Internet users," he said.

The growing demand for mobile Internet-based services creates the need for more speed within mobile networks. WAP will only be a stepping stone before we see other packet-oriented data transmission technologies like GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).

GPRS is one of the key steps in the migration route of today's 2G to 3G, the third generation of mobile communications, UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System).


Every one may want to have access to the information they need, anytime and anywhere. Anticipating this, leading telecommunications equipment giants have allied to develop mobile access for them.

The world is experiencing the alteration from the 2G -- second generation -- which include the current GSM technology in Indonesia, to the 3G. The next generation of mobile cellular technology offers a tenfold increase in data throughput rates (from 9.6kbps to 115kbps).

Very soon, we will see GPRS which uses eight 14.4 kbps time slots simultaneously (instead of one 9.6 kbps slot in GSM) to provide bandwidth on demand for data applications such as Internet access. GPRS is a reliable system with all of the advantages of integrated services. It also offers an optimized point-to-point transmission of high-frequency, small-volume data, together with point-to-multipoint transmission in specific geographical areas.

There will also be the so-called Bluetooth technology. It is a global specification for wireless connectivity permitting phones, hand-held PCs, televisions, disc players, cars, alarms and so on, linking each other and transmit voice and data by way of radio frequencies rather than cables. Bluetooth devices and appliances are estimated to be applied in hundreds of millions if cell phones and millions of other communications tools, like headsets, PCs and handheld computers in less than two years.

Later, we will have the UMTS, the realization of a new generation of mobile communication technology, featuring bandwidths of up to 2Mbps and allowing transmission of voice, data and multimedia. This will allow video-conferencing with excellent picture quality, fast mobile net surfing and transmission of e-mails (or m-mails) with large file attachments a usual thing.

UMTS is based on two duplexing modes: FDD (frequency division duplex) and UMTS-TDD (time division duplex). But, its system will not sweep away the existing GSM networks overnight. Instead, there will be a gentle migration to the new technology.

German Siemens and Japan's NEC for instance, have joined forces to gain maximum synergy and to combine their technologies in developing UMTS radio systems.

French Alcatel has also cooperated with Japan's Fujitsu to anticipate in the booming 3G market.

Siemens stated that the mobile communication market has proven to be one of the fastest growing segments in the telecommunications market. In the field of mobile data solutions, research has shown that the annual subscriber growth rate will rise from 60 percent to 85 percent for business users and from 60 percent to over 100 percent for residential users by 2002. Mobile data solutions will, therefore, play an essential role in shaping the immediate future of mobile telephony: they offer tremendous business potential and create lucrative new sources of revenue.


Future wireless systems will provide users not only voice, text and audio features, but also high-quality images and video in the wideband frequency. This will include interactive news delivery (voice, video, e-mail, graphics), interactive audio, Internet games and video conferencing with file transfer capability.

The 3G comes from the existing GSM technology (working in 900 megahertz or 1.8 gigahertz). There are also GPRS and EDGE (Enhanced Data-rates for GSM Evolution) before coming to UMTS. UMTS is the part of the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) IMT-2000 vision of a global family of third-generation mobile communications systems.

IMT-2000 is the term used by the ITU as the specification for 3G services, based upon a "family" of compatible standards, of which a GSM-based evolution is set to be the most widespread.

ITU recently stated that another milestone in the history of third-generation mobile systems has been reached with the formal adoption of the IMT-2000 radio interface specifications. The agreement came at the ITU Radiocommunication Assembly meeting in Istanbul early this month.

The approval of the technical specifications of IMT-2000 opens the way for a whole new world of multimedia mobile communications. With speeds nearly three times faster than today's basic rate ISDN for fast-moving mobile terminals and even higher speeds for users who are stationary or moving at walking speed, IMT-2000 systems will definitely change the way we communicate, access information, work or even carry out social or personal activities.

ITU said that the 3G market is estimated to grow from US$1.5 billion in 2001 to $9.2 billion in 2005, with investment in infrastructure to support 3G services reaching some $1 billion in 2001 and peak in 2003 at over $5 billion. (icn)