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Mobile Users Willing To Pay Extra For 'Hyperconnectivity'

A Nortel-sponsored survey finds a strong need but improved user experiences and faster speeds will depend on how quickly wireless carriers build out their 4G networks.

Mobile users are frustrated by data limitations of wireless networks and are willing to pay extra to get faster connections in more places, according to research released this week by networking equipment provider Nortel and consulting firm CSMG ADVENTIS.

The research is a compilation of reactions from focus groups in the United States and Japan of various ages and professional levels, including high school students, college students, post-graduate young adults, established workers, and a group that uses technology for both work and personal purposes known as "prosumers."

"We sat down with these folks and just listened," wrote Scott Wickware, Nortel's VP of Carrier Networks, in a blog post. "One of the most interesting things to me was the essentially unanimous frustration with the limitations of current wireless networks beyond data applications like Internet and e-mail."

Although mobile users in Europe and Asia have access to more advanced devices and services than those in the U.S., the research found that Japanese consumers and business professionals expressed many of the same frustrations. Users everywhere unanimously want "hyperconnectivity," meaning the ability to get connected to the Web via different types of devices, such as MP3 players, digital cameras, and even car systems.

That's exactly what Verizon has planned in the U.S. The carrier last week disclosed plans to roll out its fourth-generation mobile broadband network using a technology called Long Term Evolution. In addition to mobile phone makers, Verizon will work with consumer electronics makers to develop other types of devices with embedded LTE connectivity.

In a podcast, CSMG's Susan Simmons pointed out that mobile users would do a lot more with their devices if they had access to wireless networks.

Younger users, for example, want social networking on-the-go, since the whole point of such communities is to stay connected with friends. They also want to receive presence information when friends are nearby, as well as access multimedia like music and messaging on online profiles.

But in the end, new services, an improved user experience, and faster speeds will depend on how quickly wireless carriers build out their 4G networks. At the moment, the carriers are in the early stages.

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