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3G environments offer the ability to deliver mass-market, high-quality, wireless multimedia applications that include extraordinary capabilities such as location-based services and global roaming. The $64,000 question (make that $64 billion question) is whether these new, advanced services will offset the costs required to design, develop, and deploy the networks. Many analysts have been increasingly critical of the large sums of money being tossed into 3G spectrum auctions, however; from the carrier's point of view, the economics of voice communications are becoming increasingly bleak. The first 2.5G services should appear in 2001, with the first 3G services appearing across the globe in 2004 (probably in Japan first). It will be very interesting to see what innovative applications will be developed for these networks and how willing consumers are to pay up. Stay tuned!

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