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Mobile and Wireless in 2004: Three Key Events

Reflections on progress in the mobile and wireless market in 2004.

While the added privacy offered by AES is significant, 802.11i also includes a well-defined authentication mechanism based on the existing 802.1X and EAP (extensible authentication protocol) framework. By combining AES and 1X/EAP, dynamic key management tied to user authentication is now available on 802.11 networks through a standardized protocol suite. Previous attempts to implement authentication with dynamic keys were largely proprietary. Not only does 802.11i provide for authentication and privacy, it also paves the way for role-based authorization services on wireless LANs, where network access permissions are tied to user credentials and group membership.

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Emergence of 3G Services in the United States

Verizon's expanded delivery of 3G CDMA2000 EV-DO services, following its late-2003 initial deployment in Washington, DC, and San Diego, signaled the emergence of high-speed carrier-based data services as a mainstream service offering. Now covering a potential population of 75 million users, almost a third of the company's total cellular coverage footprint, EV-DO offers a near-broadband user experience, with downstream TCP/IP throughput in excess of 500 kilobits per second.

The delivery of EV-DO is not only significant for current and future Verizon customers, it also has forced the hand of competitors, who can't afford to let Verizon capture market share for what the industry hopes will be a lucrative market--one that will deliver higher profits at a time of eroding voice revenues. AT&T Wireless followed suit by delivering UMTS data services, the 3G service strategy embraced by GSM carriers. While not as fast as EV-DO, UMTS is a credible high-speed offering that presents a clear migration path to even faster services. The acquisition of AT&T Wireless by Cingular provides the combined company with the additional resources and spectrum to push this network nationwide. Cingular has announced its intention to do so in 2006. Finally, Sprint, which recently merged with Nextel, also has indicated its intention to deliver EV-DO services in 2005.

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