Sunday, August 23, 2009

Support for Services

Another important difference between 3G and WiFi is their embedded support for voice services. 3G was expressly designed as an upgrade technology for wireless voice telephony networks, so voice services are an intrinsic part of 3G. In contrast, WiFi provides a lower layer data communications service that can be used as the substrate on which to layer services such as voice telephony. For example, with IP running over WiFi it is possible to support Voice-over-IP telephony. However, there is still great market uncertainty as to how voice services would be implemented and quality assured over WLAN networks.

Another potential advantage of 3G over WiFi is that 3G offers better support for secure/private communications than does WiFi. However, this distinction may be more apparent than real. First, we have only limited operational experience with how secure 3G communications are. Hackers are very ingenious and once 3G systems are operating, we will find holes that we were not previously aware of. Second, the security lapses of WiFi have attracted quite a bit of attention and substantial resources are being devoted to closing this gap. Although wireless communications may pose higher risks to privacy (e.g., follow-me anywhere tracking capabilities) and security (i.e., passive monitoring of RF transmissions is easier) than do wireline networks, we do not believe that this is likely to be a long-term differentiating factor between 3G and WiFi technologies.

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