Telus Corp. believes that organizations will eagerly sign up for its new HSPA Plus data network, which offers a maximum speed that’s seven times faster than its old network.

However, at a roundtable last week to convince industry reporters, a business school professor acknowledged that many businesses wonder what the need is.

“That’s a question I still don’t have the answer to,” admitted Dr. Michael Wade of York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“I still don’t see the killer app,” said Wade, who was produced by the telco along with U.S. wireless consultant Andrew Seybold for reporters to question. Wade noted that business staff can e-mail and text message with Telus’ CDMA-based network, which is still in use and has a maximum speed under ideal conditions of 3.5 Megabits per second compared to the HSPA Plus network’s 21 Mpbs.

But “now that we have this extra bandwidth, what are we going to use it for?” he asked.

For some organizations the opportunity to do certain things faster will be “revolutionary”, he said, allowing them to compete against bigger enterprises. If HSPA Plus service is expanded to rural areas that now only get dial-up Internet connectivity, the difference will be “huge” for users, he added.

But for most, Wade said, it will be “evolutionary” change.

“It’s a challenge to the Teluses of the world to come up with applications and uses for that extra bandwidth so a justification can be made to organizations why they should ante up to get the [faster] devices,” he said.

Seybold said high speed data networks in the U.S. are allowing businesses to extend graphic-heavy applications to mobile devices that otherwise would have had to be re-written.

He agreed with Wade that high-speed is “the thing that makes small businesses as big as big business because it gives them the same access to information all the time.”

But even Seybold acknowledged that initially American businesses were cool to faster 3G networks. However, once their staff and consumers picked up on it for personal use, organizations saw the light.

That’s one reason why Seybold isn’t critical of Canadian wireless carriers moving to HSPA later than their U.S. counterparts. Now that the business market is taking off, he said, Canadians carriers will benefit.

Jim Senko, Telus’ vice-president of mobility solutions, has no doubt many businesses will subscribe or upgrade to the new network.

Faster wireless access on laptops means staff can work on the road or at home at the same speeds they’d seen in an office, he said, especially downloading data or using collaboration tools.

Another advantage Telus has is the ability to offer three networks with devices to match the needs of customers: An IDEN network for those who want handsets with two-way capabilities, the CDMA network for light data use or remote equipment and vehicle monitoring, and the HSPA Plus network for road warriors.

The speed differential between the CDMA and HSPA Plus networks is closer to 10 times for average throughput, he added.

However, Wade cautioned that the numbers aren’t that important.

 “It’s not the size of the Internet stick that matters,” he said, “it’s how you use it.”




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