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New niche for 3G?
ADSL costs could drive 3G uptake...
Written poolside at my hotel in Rome and dispatched via a 3G HSDPA data service.

The economic downturn and collapse of the dollar have resulted in a lot of my business migrating out of the US into the EU and south-east Asia.

So after more than a decade dominated by easy-to-find free wi-fi access in the US, I now find myself in countries where I have to search out low-cost links.

Because of tight deadlines over recent weeks I've had to use access facilities in hotels that have stung me for anything between 15 and 30 per day for the privilege.

So I decided I needed another string to my bow. For less than 20 per month I now get access with up to 5GB downloads using a 3G USB/HSDPA wireless dongle.

The service has so far provided me with greater access speeds than any of the hotel ADSL services I've tried to date, and I have actually saved money. It also represents the first useable - for me, anyway - 3G service I could justify, sign up for and employ profitably.

But it might just be that my iPhone could be the second reason to use 3G - especially if my future excursions into regions with high access costs continue to be problematic.

As a general trend young people only buy a fixed telephone line to gain broadband access as their lives are centred on mobility and mobile phones.

What is now interesting is the prospect that they might just move to 3G for broadband access too. I can certainly see this move as a prospect in areas where the bandwidth provision is advantageous.

This development might just be the financial thread the 3G industry have been looking for.

The only potential threat on the horizon appears to be WiMax because ADSL services have now more or less maxed out, and generally have contention ratios in excess of 15:1, and never seem to perform as advertised.