CellTower

For you fans of cellular phone technology, here's news that Cingular (the largest carrier in the US) has scaled back 3G deployment plans. This delay is probably the result of Cingular's acquisition of AT&T Wireless and the effort to integrate the two networks. Competitor Verizon has 3G deployed in 32 cities, while financial analysts figure Cingular will deploy 3G in only 12 to 15 cities in 2005. The past few years have seen much more rapid deployment of 3G in Europe, Japan and Korea.

After riding the Internet bubble, I landed at AT&T Wireless (AWS) doing wireless data business development targeting health care. The sweet spot back then was SMS (short message service), which is ideal for spot monitoring applications in the home or out and about. The biggest barrier to adoption then was the lack of reimbursement for wireless monitoring.

Back then the big data network was CDPD, a really slow packet-switched data service that's still used for public safety applications. AWS' GSM/GPRS network was just being rolled out. The biggest health care application I've seen to date is the transmission of 12 lead EKG snapshots from monitor/defibs from EMS to the hospital.

Recently, I've had a couple of knowledgeable folks suggest that cellular radios would make great radios for medical devices. Then devices could roam seamlessly from within the hospital (where micro cells would be used) to virtually anywhere outside the hospital, all with the same radio and network connection. In addition to the advantages, there seem to be considerable barriers to this approach. If anyone has any thoughts on this, one way or the other, I'd love to hear from you.