Sunday, August 14, 2005

Taking Wireless to the Next Level

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports on the rollout of high-speed data networks as the next wave to grow revenue for carriers, especially when voice services have become commoditized.

According to IDC, "cellular data networks this year should bring only $775 million in revenue from corporate laptop users, but that will grow to $4.2 billion by 2009, with $1 billion coming from 3G users alone." In addition, "users will buy only $220 million in data services this year but another $4 billion on 3G networks by 2009, not including money spent on things like ring tones that typically cost $1 to $3 apiece."

IDC analyst Lewis Ward said faster data networks "are the cornerstone of future networks. It's not an option not to do it."

In its initial stages here, carriers only have to look to the east to understand the huge potential of 3G. IDC estimates Japan "has between 27 million and 30 million subscribers" while South Korea has "more than a quarter of its 36.5 million mobile subscribers on 3G networks after only three years."

From an enterprise perspective, the advent of 3G networks will enable more than just email, including better access to business applications, data and processes. "It's really the death of location as far as work goes," opined Roger Entner of Ovum.

Forrester is taking a more wait-and-see approach regarding corporate usage. "Services like EV-DO will likely cannibalize some amount of Wi-Fi usage, but I doubt they'll make a significant dent in overall U.S. Wi-Fi adoption levels," Forrester analyst Lisa Pierce said.

As for mobile video, Chris Carron of Forrester said, "A large majority of consumers aren't sure they even want TV service on their mobile handsets, and those who do aren't necessarily willing to pay for it."

Personally, I tthink high-speed data networks and Wi-fi complement each other on converged devices, offering maximum flexibility for mobile workers. Carriers need to get over the fear of Wi-fi on handsets and offer it in conjuction with reasonably-priced high-speed data networks. For most mobile users this combination could prove irresistable and ultimately will spark increased network usage for the carriers.

As for the adoption of content and services on mobile handsets and devices, if the carriers lower the barier to entry then more users will explore and sample...