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mobile Internet should not be considered as a substitute for the
There are a number of factors that will enable the rapid and successful
development of the mobile Internet. First and foremost, the rapid
deployment of high-speed 3G networks will be crucial to the facilitation
of mobile multimedia services. Second, the availability and affordability
of adequate Internet-enabled handsets will be a prerequisite for users.
Third, unrestricted and non-proprietary mobile Internet content needs to
be fostered; players should be discouraged from imposing commercial
restrictions on content providers or establishing “walled gardens” of
content. Finally, simple and transparent billing models are required,
taking into account the difference between voice and data services and the
growing importance of content. In all cases, the mobile Internet should
not be considered as a substitute for the fixed-line Internet. Usage
patterns and requirements for Internet browsing via mobile devices differ
significantly from those of the traditional Internet.
Nevertheless, valuable insights can be gleaned from the evolution of the
fixed-line Internet, notably relating to its early development.
Initially, users were charged per-minute for browsing the Internet.
In most countries, operators then moved to a subscription model
with call charges for time spent on-line.
In countries where local calls are unlimited, like the United
States and Canada, flat-rate plans were introduced. Countries in Europe
and Asia soon followed suit in the late 1990s. It can be said that the
mobile Internet is following a similar trajectory. In
the early days of WAP over GSM, users were billed for every minute they
spent on-line. i-mode combines monthly subscription with volume or
packet-based billing. Always-on GPRS billing has evolved with the
introduction of volume-based charges. With high-bandwidth applications and
increased spectrum efficiency, will flat rates become the norm for mobile
data, as they have done for fixed data? Flat-rate schemes for data
services are already being considered by a number of mobile operators. But
users will have to wait some time before these become widely available.
Figure 3: Early 3G pioneers
Korea, there are no subscription charges for mobile Internet services (CDMA
IS-95, CDMA2000 1x and 1x-EV-DO). The figures show the number of
handsets theoretically capable of supporting these services.