Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fixed/Mobile *Network* Convergence should be a big driver for next gen investment

I seem to be reading a lot of reports lately.

Infonetics has released their latest report: Service Provider Plans for Next Gen and Wireless broadband: North America, Europe and Pacific 2006. It's a survey of 18 North American, European and Asia Pacific wireless carriers and gets their views on why they would deploy next gen mobile networks.

67% of respondents said they viewed offering bundled services as a strong driver for investing in next-generation equipment. Infonetics notes that offering triple-play service, with mobile IPTV, will become increasingly important as voice revenues decline.

Operators are looking at a range of mobile broadband technologies for next-generation networks, including WCDMA, WiFi and WiMAX. Unlicensed technologies such as WiFi and WiMAX present opportunities to provide bundled services. 6% of respondents offer bundled VoIP with WiFi; this is expected to grow to 44% by 2007.

So what about fixed/mobile NETWORK convergence? It just doesn't make sense for a mobile operator to jump into the triple-play fray only offering wireless/mobility. Sure, customers may be happy with a mobile phone instead of a fixed, they may be happy with a wireless broadband connection instead of DSL, but what about TV?

Cable operators already offering triple-play can very easily bolt on a mobile service to make quadruple-play. Witness NTL and Virgin.

Mobile operators absolutely need to build next-gen wireless networks so they can grow revenue and regain the "mobility premium" that's disappearing in voice. But I think they're missing a BIG TRICK by restricting themselves to wireless access only.

After all, mobile operators have huge access networks - why don't they leverage them to offer fixed line services??

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