Weekly Wrap: Cheaper By The Data
By Eric Lin, Fri Nov 05 08:30:00 GMT 2004

Operators give away Wi-Fi, cameraphone users give away their pictures, Qualcomm gives us 100 channels on the go, and more...


Nokia started the week announcing a few new smartphones, including the first Series 90 smartphone -- a new device with a 640 x 320 touch screen -- but it may be Nokia's first and last using the Series 90 moniker. The company announced it would roll the features into its popular Series 60 platform, following Palm and UIQ's lead of combining all interfaces into a single OS.

Cafes aren't the only business giving away Wi-Fi to attract customers. Operators are teaming up with their wireline parent companies to offer free, or very cheap, Wi-Fi to subscribers in order to keep them happy and reduce churn.

Telenor is lowering the cost of wireless data as well -- over its cellular network. It is running a promotion that will cap a user's daily data charges. The promotion will overlap Telenor's 3G launch, so not only will it help current subscribers, but it should also help to lure 3G subs into experimenting as well.

Another warning that the price of 3G data could be getting out of hand came when Nokia likened it to ISDN. Both were overpriced and didn't deliver enough of a speed increase over previous technologies. If operators don't do something, there are other wireless standards waiting in the wings, just as DSL and cable modems have sent ISDN packing.

After threatening to launch a wireless network a number of times, it appears media giant Time Warner is really going to do it. On the surface it may appear the company is adding just one more network to its portfolio, but it's possible the company is testing the waters before delving into wireless whole hog.

Time Warner isn't the only traditional media network taking wireless seriously. Large news outlets are finally publishing pictures and video from cameraphones as well as adopting bloggers. Citizens may become journalists, but now it's as likely they'll do so for a big media channel as for an independent publication.

Home networks may turn average users into their own content providers. A new study shows that home media servers are growing in popularity, and as people become accustomed to streaming their video and music around their home, it's likely they'll want to take it on the road with them and stream the same content to their mobile devices.

If users don't stream video, someone will. In addition to operators trying to sell us mobile video, Qualcomm is building a new wireless network for the exclusive purpose of broadcasting mobile video to 3G phones. The network will be capable of delivering 100 channels to handsets.

Elsewhere, Justin Pearse fears WAP is choking out MMS, Steve Wallage relieves the West's fears of TD-SCDMA, Mark Fraunfelder teaches machines to understand the Web, and Howard Rheingold explores teaching the mobile generation.