Sandy Potter -- vice president of business development at Canvas Systems, a provider of refurbished computer equipment -- has experience using 2.5G networks and has found them significantly lacking. They were so slow, she recalls, that she brought her computer into the IT staff because she thought it was failing. Her timing was good: IT was testing an EvDO service and gave her a card. The difference in performance was dramatic.
“It’s as though I’m sitting at my desk. It allows me to be out of the office for five or six days and not be backlogged when I come back,” Potter says. “It’s all about how you can do more deals in the same time -- and not have a backlog that takes a weekend to go through or interrupts the group’s workflow.” Another advantage is that, when visiting clients, Potter and her staff don’t have to use the client’s network to get broadband access.
“3G provides the potential for enterprise services to run over the wide area network,” says Mark Morell, director of strategic marketing for carrier networks at Nortel Networks, which provides the carriers equipment for their 3G systems. “We expect to see mobile users have the same services and capabilities as in their offices.”
When fully deployed, “3G will reduce the expectation gap and the delivery gap between wireless and wired connections,” says Antoine Blondeau, vice president of wireless at Salesforce.com. “The user experience will compare to the Web experience.” And Blondeau speaks from personal experience: “I’ve had an EvDO card for a while, and it works nicely. I’m using my laptop more often, and I’m doing more complex tasks [over the air] with it.”
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For IT, providing 3G access to notebook users is simple: Subscribe to the service and hand out 3G modem cards to users. Novatel Wireless currently offers EvDO and UMTS modem cards and plans to support HSDPA this fall. Sierra Wireless also provides EvDO cards and plans to release UMTS/HSDPA cards in the future. Current 3G modems aren’t backward-compatible with 2.5G networks such as 1xRTT and GPRS, so users would need both modems if they frequently travel in non-3G areas. When they lose 3G service, they’ll need to swap their 3G modem card with a 2.5G modem card and then connect to the 2.5G network. When they re-enter 3G terrain, they’ll need to revert to the 3G card. Fortunately, new models planned for the fall will support both 3G and 2.5G networks, thereby eliminating the need to carry two modem cards.