Ovum warns on dual-mode

Everyone in the telecoms industry is still too focused on dual-mode phones, even though the people working in the trenches are beginning to voice real skepticism that dual-mode services will ever take off. So says analyst firm, Ovum, in its latest report which paints a less-than-rosy picture of dual-mode services in the US over the next three years.

Ovum suggests that by the end of 2010, only just over 2% of mobile subscribers, or less than five and a half million people, will have purchased dual-mode services. This, almost ten years after vendors first began talking up the potential of the technology.

Jan Dawson, the report’s author and VP of Ovum’s US enterprise practice said: “Equipment vendors have been fixated on dual-mode phones as the key form of fixed-mobile convergence but the people responsible for implementing this at the carriers are really skeptical that the devices and solutions are ever going to be ready for prime time.”

Dawson warns that carriers need to “expand their horizons” and embrace the much broader spectrum of approaches to fixed-mobile convergence other than dual-mode solutions in order to avoid missing developing opportunities.

The other key forms of FMC include identity convergence and remote access and control. Identity convergence would allow users to assume the same identity-phone number, email address, usernames and passwords, whether they are using a wired or wireless device. “But it is actually the online portals-Yahoo!, Google, MSN and others that are taking the lead in this area and not the carriers, which risk being left behind,” Dawson said. “Remote access and control is nascent today but there’s a big opportunity here for the carriers to invest in technology and capture this opportunity as it arises.”

He cites allowing consumers to remotely program their DVRs or check their home monitoring systems as just two of the scenarios that consumers will be excited about and willing to pay for.

On the business side, carriers and vendors need to focus their attention on mobile extension and enterprise gateway services which will provide intelligent call routing and control to enterprises seeking to bring down mobile spending. Dawson said: “These solutions are going to deliver many of the benefits people associate with dual-mode solutions without the costs and hassle of deploying a wifi infrastructure for voice, or the limitations of dual-mode devices.”

He added: “Overall, it’s time for a reality check and for carriers to move on to the forms of fixed-mobile convergence which have real potential for commercial launch. Recent merger and acquisition activity has left us with three major players with a significant opportunity to combine wireline and wireless offerings, but we’ve yet to see any real moves in this direction. Now is the time to act.”


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