Cellular mobile networks have been built for voice services and even more importantly have been finetuned over the years for efficient and effective voice transmission. While both 2G and 3G allow, in principle, for a large range of mobile data services, these networks can never be optimised for that. Voice will remain the killer application for mobile with some data services included as support services and niche market services. WiMAX and 4G are the real solutions for mobile data but by than it will be called wireless personal broadband. This report analyses the industry. Other topics include:-
Forecasts and Market issues
SMS, Premium SMS, MMS, Mobile TV
M Commerce and Micro payments
Prepaid electronic payment services
HSDPA, GPRS, WAP, EDGE
CDMA2000 1x, EVDO, I Mode, Blackberry
RFID, Location services, telemetry
Private and Trunked Mobile Radio
Forecasts and Market Issues
Cellular mobile networks have been built for voice services and even more importantly have been finetuned over the years for efficient and effective voice transmission. While both 2G and 3G allow, in principle, for a large range of mobile data services, these networks can never be optimised for that. Voice will remain the killer application for mobile with some data services included as support services and niche market services. WiMAX and 4G are the real solutions for mobile data but by than it will be called wireless personal broadband. This report analyses the industry.
HSDPA, GPRS, WAP, EDGE, CDMA 2000 1X, EVDO, i-mode and BlackBerry
The industry is awash with a multitude of acronyms and fancy names for somewhat inexplicable technologies and services. The range of services promoted as mid--way between conventional 2G mobile services offering plain voice and SMS, and the 3G multimedia + voice applications is known as the 2.5G range of wireless data services. The report looks at some of these 2.5G services, including GPRS, PTT, USSD and EDGE. The latest addition is HSDPA to the 3G networks.
Like the GSM technology, CDMA has also delivered a range of mobile data technologies, namely 1X and EVDO. However, with the withdrawal of CDMA from the Australian market these services are no longer relevant to the market. They will be replaced by HSDPA. The report also covers the failure of i-mode. BlackBerry, one of the most successful business mobile data applications, is also discussed.
The SMS, MMS and Mobile TV Market
The SMS technology, based on GSM, is examined, from its faltering beginnings to its present relevance to mobile data. Key issues in relation to market trends, marketing, technology developments and regulatory and policy matters are all discussed. Premium SMS is also covered.
SMS remains a major growth area for mobile operators. However, revenue growth is only a fraction of the growth in messages. Australians did send well over 8 billion SMS messages in FY 2005/06, an average of at least 300 messages for each subscriber. By the end of the decade over 10 billion messages will be sent. The importance of SMS to mobile phone service operators is also increasing, with SMS now accounting for an average of between 10% and 15% of revenue for mobile operators.
As an extension of the immensely popular SMS service, MMS was aimed at providing longer text messages, in addition to music and pictures, it also allows for the sending of messages to multiple recipients. Launched in 2001, it has failed to take off. Elements of MMS have been introduced in other technologies similar to where WAP ended up. The current technology - and more importantly its business models - don’t yet stack up. The same applies to the mobile TV technology, perhaps a great engineering feat, but where is the business model!
M-Commerce, Micro payments
Mobile communications remains best suited for voice services. The data element will predominantly be to support the main voice function. Nonetheless, many vested interests depend on the success of mobile data services, including the much-vaunted mobile commerce services, or m-commerce. While there are good applications, the current technologies and business models are not well suited for mass market applications. SMS-based systems are now also used for micropayments on the Internet. The billing features that mobile operators have are among their strongest assets and will see them extending these facilities off-net to include Internet billing.
There is no doubt that mobile data applications have caught the attention of the media. However, after nearly ten years, less than 5% of mobile users have ventured beyond SMS. The business models used by operators, in which content providers have to pay up to 50% of their revenue, are totally flawed. I also argue that the reason for this is the fact that current 2G and 3G technologies can’t handle massive mobile content usage over their networks. True IP-based wireless broadband might finally deliver on the mobile data promise.
Business models for content providers remain shaky with operators still charging a hefty 30-50% of revenues. A few initiatives saw some marginally changes occurring in 2005 which continued in 2006. The music industry negotiated better deals and on Telstra’s i-mode service, content providers do receive better margins. However 95% of usage takes place on GSM services. Ringtones and wallpaper still dominate the market followed by music and games. A breakthrough in mobile content is not expected until later this decade.
Wireless Mobility Market
Up till now the mobile market has mainly revolved around mobile calls and SMS. However this market is reaching the end of its life. On the other side we see the emergence of wireless broadband, the mobile aspects of this market are going show us the way forward where mobile data failed. This is the new market of “Mobility”. This will further develop in an AI (artificial intelligence) network infrastructure, linked to personal devices, with high storage capacity and parallel processing. Data will move freely around this wireless grid, which of course, will also be linked into the fixed network. Both WiMAX and 4G are vying for this market.
Telemetry, Location Services, RFID
Telemetry applications are expected to boom as ‘intelligent’ digital devices, which chatter away almost incessantly, exchange all kinds of information automatically and transparently to the people around them. Data traffic between people and machines means that the global telecommunications network will soon resemble a worldwide computer network, rather than the voice-only mechanism for person-to-person communication it represented to its founders. The report looks at the market’s potential, and some developments in the USA and Australia on location-based services, and introduces the Bluetooth technology. By 2006 market expectations for RFID remained buoyant, but mass deployment is still some years away.
Private Mobile Radio and Trunked Mobile Radio
The major market for two-way systems in Australia is in the traditional emergency services and public services markets - police, fire brigades, ambulance services, railways, utility companies, councils. Private applications can be found in the mining industry, oil and gas exploration and on rural properties in the outback. The Australian market shares are still standing at 80% for traditional Private Mobile Radio (PMR) and 20% for Trunked Mobile Radio (TMR), with a trend away from the traditional vehicle handsets to hand-held mobiles. The market is very much a replacement market, with about 1,000-1,500 terminals sold per annum.
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