TELECOMS

GSMA PUSHES "3G FOR ALL" PROGRAM

Following on its moves to create ultra low cost GSM handsets, the GSM Association is now embarking on a new program called "3G for all" designed to make 3G handsets and services more accessible to people in developing countries. The GSMA plans to establish a core set of common requirements for 3G handsets over the next few months in an effort to help mobile phone suppliers rapidly bring down the cost of manufacturing devices. This is an interesting proposition so soon in the 3G game. GSM technology has been around for more than 10 years, and vendors have gotten the price of those phones down to less than $30 wholesale in the ultra low-cost segment. There is no word on how low the GSMA would like to see 3G phones wholesale for, but you have to wonder how low it can go when vendors start adding more than just voice service.

And how low will operators be willing to go with multimedia pricing? GSMA CEO Rob Conway said the group's 3G handset initiative will allow far more people to take advantage of the video clips, mobile music and other multimedia services that are used by more affluent users in the developed world. You would think users in under developed regions would choose putting food on their tables over downloading the latest music. There's just not a lot of disposable income. Remember too that 3G brings significant enhancements to voice capacity.

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