The technology behind third-generation (3G) mobile phones is just not good enough, according to the founder and director of the Media lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Universal Mobile Telecoms Service (UMTS), 3G's underpinning technology, provides simply "too little, too soon", according to Professor Nicholas Negroponte of MIT.
"There are not enough features to make the change from GSM worthwhile for consumers," he said.
"UMTS will exist but it will not be a success," he added.
A long-time critic of the amount operators pay for 3G licences, Negroponte said that he wished the industry "could just skip 3G".
"I wish we could just give the money back, but given the amounts involved it's just not possible to persuade governments to do that," he said.
Negroponte said the real question with UMTS is how scaleable the technology will prove to be to fit in with the following generation of mobile services.
A recent Mobinet study of 6,000 mobile users across 15 countries reported that only a third of mobile phone users plan to upgrade to 3G technology.
Conducted by global management consulting firm AT Kearney and the Judge Institute at Cambridge University's Business School, the study found that more than 36 per cent of respondents either did not need the technology or did not understand what it could do for them.
The research team concluded that 3G operators faced an uphill struggle to persuade consumers that internet-enabled telephony is a must-have. Concerns raised by respondents included slow access and the payment plans for 3G handsets and services.
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