Monday, January 31, 2011

What Needs To Be Known About NGP's 3G

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The much rumored follow up to the Playstation Portable codenamed the Next Generation Portable or NGP by been officially been announced by Sony.  Sporting a screen that displays 720p high definition graphics and two analog thumb sticks, Sony promises the NGP will deliver a gaming experience only matched by the PS 3.  One feature that surprised many analysts and journalists that follow the video game industry is the built in 3G capability. 

Onboard 3G will bring online multiplayer gaming to anywhere there is 3G service available.  What isn't known is if Sony will be selling the NGP using a business model similar to Apple's iPad making the end customer subscribe to 3G service on their own or will be more like Amazon's Kindle where the cost buying content pays for 3G service.  Since the onboard 3G will be used for playing online, not just for downloading content it's extremely likely that Sony will choose the former rather than the latter. 

Another of the first of the early questions about the NGP's 3G is going to be which carriers' networks are going to be compatible the NGP.  If Sony chooses make the end user responsible for subscribing to their own 3G service it will be most likely that HSPA/UMTS/GSM networks will be compatible.  American gamers will need to subscribe to data service from AT&T and possibly T-Mobile if Sony chooses to support Advanced Wireless Spectrum bands on the NGP.

Subscribers on Verizon and Sprint are once again SOL, Even though CDMA subscribers make up about half of the cell subscribers in all of North America, putting in CDMA would increase the cost and would be next to impossible to get service hooked up since both Verizon and Sprint don't activate devices they didn't originally sell through their authorized retail outlets.

For Canadian gamers, getting online through 3G will be pretty easy, since the NGP will be compatible with Rogers, Fido, Telus and Bell right out of the box.  If the NGP comes compatible with AWS Wind Mobile and Mobilicity will also be compatible.  MTS may also be compatible if they can get their HSPA network that they have been promising up and running before the NGP launches at the end of 2011.  However subscribers on Sasktel may have problems getting an NGP online, not because of an incompatible network, just incompatible customer service.  Sasktel even after switching to an HSPA network still refuses to activate unlocked devices on their network.

Putting 3G on the NGP will bring an online component that will help Sony compete against Nintendo's 3DS and will undoubtedly be game changing.

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