Wireless lends light to the telecom darkness

While the telecom sector in Canada has had a bumpy ride over the past few years, wireless has been a bright spot, according to one industry observer.

Wireless computing is on the ascent, said Lawrence Surtees, director, telecom research for IDC Canada Ltd., during an industry event in Toronto last month. In Canada last year, there were over 12 million wireless users and mobility accounted for approximately 20 per cent of the total Canadian telecom market. The sector is still expected to grow by double digits, he explained.

For the first time, wireless users last year exceeded wireline users globally, he added. Yet, wireless adoption in Canada and the U.S. still lags behind countries such as Finland and Italy, he noted.

As wireless grows in Canada, it explains why companies like HP Canada Co. and Avaya Canada Corp. are choosing to partner to provide wireless solutions to customers. They reaffirmed just such a partnership at the Toronto event, as the two companies described how they work together. Under the agreement, Avaya’s IP telephony solution, dubbed Unified Communications Manager, and Speech Access products will be paired with HP’s Linux servers, software and services expertise. With these elements combined, an organization could create a wireless local area network (WLAN), as was the case with Toronto-based Centennial College.

Both HP and Avaya will be involved in the implementation process of IP or WLAN infrastructure solutions for customers, the firms said.

Victor Garcia, managing principal for the mobile program office at HP Canada in Markham, Ont., said the company has a targeted message when addressing mobility.

“Mobility is not about individual devices. It’s about integrating devices, hardware and software into one total solution.”

When examining the value of mobility, he said organizations should ask themselves if their wireless strategy would make or save the company money before moving ahead.

Avaya and HP said that partnering has been an important piece of their mobile strategies and they see huge benefits if each party is able to deliver on its technological strengths.

“If we do what we do best and HP does what it does best, we can build some great applications and merge those local area networks and voice solutions together,” said William Edwards, Canadian manager, strategic relationships for Avaya Canada in Markham, Ont.

Some of their other current joint customers include the Government of Canada, which installed a voice messaging solution, and Scotiabank, which is using a joint solution to run its phone banking system.

Interestingly, Surtees noted that while 60 per cent of Canadian enterprises have adopted a wireless strategy, it remains a relatively low IT priority. Security and the perceived integration problems associated with mobile computing were two reasons he cited as why wireless adoption levels might be lagging.

HP’s Garcia had his own explanation as to why security remains an issue with wireless. It has to do with users’ experiences as much as the technology, he said, noting that many users forget or lose their handhelds in public places, leaving information vulnerable. It’s up to the enterprise to create policies that help keep data safe from prying eyes, even when mobile devices go missing, Garcia said.

Surtees said mobility is being driven largely by the consumer segment in Canada, and this could represent a sweet spot for companies looking to sell solutions to enterprise customers. If the consumer market has already accepted mobility, the enterprise is sure to follow suit. He also noted that enterprises that adopt a mobile solution do so mainly because it increases productivity.