The major mobile players are now agreed that staying with GSM has ceased to be an option, and the pressure is on to deliver quickly on third-generation (3G) services.
"Global voice revenue and margins are declining," said Pascal Debon, president of wireless networks at infrastructure provider Nortel Networks. "But data revenue is rising."
Speaking at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, Debon explained that the recent experience in Korea showed that, when data applications were taken up, voice also began to grow again. So the immediate target was speed and efficiency for data, delivered through GPRS and then 3G.
Dick Simpson, president of Australian Telstra International, was even more blunt in his keynote message. "There is no definitive road to success [with 3G], but not trying is not an option," he said.
His view was that voice and data should be treated entirely separately. Voice was ubiquitous with very little demand elasticity, but there are a raft of non-voice applications which would only apply to certain sections of the population.
Simpson gave a thumbs up to GPRS, maintaining that it offered a bridge because 3G would take time to provide anything more than pockets of coverage.
But there was a problem with 3G, he argued. "Markets don't like uncertainty and right now there are not enough standards to handle the data complexities. So we still have uncertainty," he said.
Simpson and Debon were also anxious to lay to rest what they saw as myths about 3G. "3G is not the mobile internet and it is wrong to view it as such," said Simpson.
He explained that there were already more mobile users than internet connections, with China, for instance, currently adding five million new mobile users every month.
"The move from 2G to 3G is not evolution or even revolution. It's another world altogether," said Debon. "2G is circuit switched for voice only [SMS uses voice technology] while 3G is packet-switched to handle data."
Tomas Isaksson, Vodafone's chief executive officer for the Americas region, gave three reasons for being optimistic about 3G despite tough economic conditions.
He said that operators had now developed the key enablers; there was visible progress with handsets; and there were signs that customer demand would be there when the networks and handsets were ready.
But Isaksson acknowledged that bringing 3G services was complex and he suspected that there would not be a single killer application. "But together [the applications] will be a killer," he said.
For the sake of operators like Vodafone, which have paid a high price for 3G licences, he needs to be right.
Comcast's £29.7bn winning bid more than twice the £13.7bn Rupert Murdoch valued Sky at just eight years ago
A nuclear strike has been considered, but Bruce Willis is nowhere in sight
Spray-on antenna could enable seamless integration of antennas with everyday objects
Parker Solar Probe, TESS and GOLD missions will deliver exciting data, claims NASA