Ericsson wheels in wireless wares

Ericsson Canada wanted to make a statement with its 3G wireless offerings, and rolling into downtown Toronto on Tuesday in an 18-wheeler rig certainly helped.

Dubbed the “Drive to 3G Tour,” Ericsson offered a sneak preview of things to come as third generation wireless networks (3G) get ready for roll out. Third generation networks promise wireless speeds of up to 2Mbps, which will enable the use of high bandwidth applications like streaming video.

Complete with a virtual jukebox demo which, through a Sony/Ericsson 3G cellular phone, users can not only select a melody of choice, but using a wireless wallet application can actually pay without using real cash, the Ericsson tour displayed the company’s efforts in the research and development of 3G. Although the company is likely best known for manufacturing handheld devices, Ericsson says is currently building network architecture that will support solutions for the mobile Internet and drive 3G into fruition.

“We are trying to show people that Ericsson…has been so entranced in developing (3G) technology and so focused in trying to bring the enabling technology to market,” said Mark Henderson, CEO of Ericsson Canada in Mississauga. “We have been talking about 3G for so long, and now you can go and actually pick it up and see it and feel it. This is to educate people on what is coming.”

Although industry analysts do not foresee wide scale 3G deployments until 2005, Ericsson’s Henderson expects 3G to be in the hands of Canadians by the end of next year.

“The availability of the technology – the hardware and the phones – is already here,” he said. “The development and manufacturing of the technology isn’t really the issue anymore. It is more the logistics of the individual markets.”

The two big markets expected to drive 3G are the youth market and the enterprise market, Henderson continued. He said that while gaming and chat functionalities will entice the youth market, high-speed apps like inventory querying and access to corporate databases will push the enterprise market further into the mobile space.

Already, Ericsson has developed a 3G business application for real estate agents, which enables agents to access the Hamilton Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – a database which lists the latest available property updates wirelessly, and in real time. Through the MLS service, agents are able to receive detailed descriptions of available properties, and can download property images to show to prospective buyers.

“(With 3G) there is going to be a different application and a different device for every user,” Henderson added. “It is really the advent of a couple of big horizontals and a bunch of verticals. E-mail, access to the Internet, chat functions, MP3s – you will see where these capabilities will land depending on the needs of the user.”

Ericsson is online at