New Motorola European boss Kevin Loosemore has been praised by analysts for "telling the truth" about 3G phone networks, which he predicted would be late.
In Japan, a fledgling 3G network is now up and running around Tokyo. But European plans have been hit by the cost of acquiring licences, poor test results, and a growing lack of conviction that customers will be prepared to splash out on considerably more expensive handsets and services.
Loosemore, who recently became president of Motorola EMEA, said that 3G mobile phone networks will not see mass market deployment until 2004 and are unlikely to be built nationwide, according to a report in the Financial Times.
Jeremy Green, research director, wireless at analyst Ovum, told vnunet.com: "Thank God someone's starting to tell the truth."
He continued: "The truth of it is, there is a lot of testing still to be done and a lot of strategy to be decided. The timetable for moving from the drawing board to commercial rollout was always optimistic."
Amrish Kacker, senior consultant at Analysys, said that even 2004 might still be too early. The analyst's research predicts only 15-20 per cent of mobile users will be using 3G handsets by 2005.
He told vnunet.com: "There's nothing really surprising in this. He [Loosemore] is quite right. There are two main economic factors at issue, the availability of dual-mode handsets, and the pressure to roll out the networks and prove the business model.
"Dual mode handsets won't be ready until the end of 2002 and will be expensive. And the underlying services and capabilities for 3G don't support the kind of revenues needed.
"The operators aren't sure what types of applications will work over 3G, the multimedia consumer types or the business applications such as calendar. So, they'll let the customers decide by watching which services prove popular over GPRS."
Ovum's Green added that there was unlikely to be sufficient equipment available to widely deploy 3G networks. He said: "There will not be mass numbers of terminals available until late 2003 at best."
Kacker said the mood in the industry on 3G had become "extremely pessimistic" for the moment. But, he added, "If GPRS takes off in 2002, companies may bring their 3G plans forward."
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