Fixed mobile convergence on the rise

Though the future of the world economy seems uncertain, with stockmarkets fluctuating wildly over the past week, one area that seemspoised to boom is fixed mobile convergence.

Infonetics Researchof Campbell, Calif. this week released a reportpredicting the FMC market will grow by a factor of seven from2007 to 2011.

Fixed-mobile convergence maynot mean the same thing to everyone, though in a nutshell it refers tothe ability to make voice calls, and/or send data, on both cellular andWi-Fi networks. The advantage to the user is the ability to reducespending on cellular voice and data plans by using Wi-Fi networks wherethey are available, while having the ability to use those cellularnetworks when out of range of Wi-Fi.

Four years ago, Avayamade a splash announcement offering a package consisting of aMotorola handset and access points from Proxim, which would let workersmake calls on one type of network and have them handed over to anotherwithout dropping the call.

But effortsto get FMC off the ground a few years ago seemed to behampered by the number of vendors and service providers.

Inits report released Monday, FMC Equipment, Phones, and Subscribers,Infonetics said sales of client equipment, including dual service,unlicensed mobile access (UMA) and IP Media Subsystem (IMS) phones,were US$7.6 billion during the second quarter of this year.

Revenuesfor the network elements, which include network controllers, voice callcontinuity application servers and convergence gateways, grew five-foldfrom 2006 to 2007. If Infonetics’ prediction of a further seven-foldgrowth to 2011 turns out to be true, that would represent an impressive35-fold growth over five years.

ExportDevelopment Canada is encouraging workers to use Wi-Finetworks to save money on their data plans outside of Canada, though ithas flat rate plans for use in Canada.

Whether Infonetics’prediction materializes remains to be seen. While on the surface, anexplosion in demand for FMC seems like a fait accompli, given the highcost of data. This raises the question of whether data plans are reallythat expensive, or if people are just think they are because they aresending huge files. After all, if all you sent on your data plans wasstraight text, that might result in cost savings.

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