3G and BWA network rollouts, supported by adoption of smart devices and apps, should give mobility the boost it awaits
Mobility solutions enable access to organisational data and applications for users on the move. Typically, mobile devices like smart phones and notebooks are used as access devices while the via media is the Internet for accessing information and carrying out business transactions from outside the organisation’s premises.
Due to the real-time access to required data, mobility solutions lead to enhanced productivity for organisations and improved services for the beneficiaries, who would be citizens in case of e-Governance services. Given such advantages, governments, especially in developing countries are adopting mobile technologies, for better reaching out to citizens.
Globally, telecom services are being seen as a major tool for socio-economic development. India has the second largest telecommunications network in the world with 688 million subscribers at the end of July 2010, as per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). India has also been widely noted as the fastest growing wireless market, globally.
As per recent domain market research (report), the market has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 30 percent since 1995 and is still going strong. On the broadband front, India has been lagging much, but with the advent of 3G and BWA networks, licenses for which have been awarded, wireless-based broadband connectivity is expected to take off. This would give a significant boost to the mobility market. Government-owned telcos, BSNL and MTNL have already rolled out commercial 3G services but more momentum is expected to kick in once the private operators too roll out their services.
Wi-Fi continues to be a driver
A wireless LAN or WLAN links two or more devices typically through an access point, which in turn is connected to the local area network (LAN). This enables mobile connectivity to a local area network and through it to the enterprise network and the Internet, within a premise.
WLAN technology uses the IEEE 802.11 group of standards. The latest standard of WLAN is 802.11n, which was ratified in September 2009. Prof. Dr. Eduard Heindl, discussed about WLAN trends in his e-Business Technologies paper published in May 2009. According to him some of the new standard’s advantages and improvements in WLAN technology include: use of 52 subcarriers for data per 20 MHz channel as opposed to 48 subcarriers used in the 802.11a/g protocol. This allows increasing the maximum data rate from 54 MHz to 65 MHz; Media Access Control (MAC) enhancements to introduce packet aggregation and increase throughput; multiple input multiple output (MIMO) technology employed by 802.11n protocol to mitigate interference and improve range. 802.11VHT is the next generation standard, which promises a high throughput of the network, and will be used to develop wireless display technologies for HDTV, fast file transfer, and campus deployments.
Though WLANs are very popular now, finding adoption in even large wireless network projects in many major cities globally, security concerns continue to be around. However, technologies like Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) somewhat mitigate the level of security on a WLAN network.
According to an IDC report, the WLAN market is predicted to grow to $2.1 billion in 2010, with a 23 percent growth over $1.7 billion in the previous year. A Dell’Oro Group report noted record growth in the global WLAN market in the first quarter this year. As per the report, the US government spending programs such as smart grid investment grants, the broadband investment and the e-rate program, are helping to stimulate ideas and purchases of WLAN technology.
A Tonse Telecom research report published in 2007 predicted that the Indian Wi-Fi market, including WLAN hardware, systems integration and software services, and excluding embedded devices and laptops, will grow from the current $41.57 million to exceed $744 million by 2012, at a CAGR of 61.4 percent. It further reported that as the broadband wireless access grows, the WLAN network gear sector will exceed $275 million in revenue by 2011-12.
The major drivers for WLAN growth in 2010, according to the IDC research, are recovery from short-term weaknesses in retail, manufacturing and services verticals, combined with the continued strength in education, healthcare and government, as enterprises continue to embrace wireless to increase efficiency and user productivity. The research report also attributes this growth to the increasing growth in 802.11n deployments this year, with 57.5 percent of all dependent access points being 802.11n-based.
BWA is coming
Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) is a broadband wireless access (BWA) technology designed to enable pervasive, high-speed mobile Internet access to a wide array of devices, and delivers low-cost, open networks. It is a mobile Internet solution enabling efficient and scalable networks for data, video and voice. WiMAX provides performance similar to Wi-Fi networks with the coverage and quality of service of cellular networks and can provide broadband wireless access up to 50 km for fixed stations and up to 15 km for mobile stations, though actual range would vary.
A June 2010 Infonetics Research report pointed out that worldwide WiMAX equipment and device revenue saw a moderate decline in the first quarter of 2010, down 2 percent to $303 million. The report attributes this decline to a seasonally slower first quarter, and stays firm in its expectation for generally healthy growth through the rest of 2010. According to it, the US, EMEA, and Asia Pacific are the hotbeds of WiMAX activity, apart from Russia.
Maravedis, another telecom market research and analysis firm, in its report titled ‘WiMAX, LTE and Broadband Wireless Worldwide Market Trends 2008 -2014’ predicted that there will be an accumulated 55 million WiMAX subscribers by the end of the year 2012, accelerating to 127 million at the end of the year 2014. Middle East, Africa, Japan, Pakistan and India are stated as the engines of growth in their respective regions.
App uptake is on rise
Keeping pace with the developments in the mobility equipment and services markets, the mobile applications segment too is developing fast.
The mobile applications market is estimated to be worth around $25 billion by 2015, as per ReportLinker. Gartner has done a research recently on the top ten consumer mobile applications consumers will be using and downloading in the year 2012. The most popularly used applications would include those designed to facilitate mobile money transfers, location-based services and mobile search, said Gartner in its recent report. In the past, consumers purchased mobile phones, based on the in-built features. With the arrival of smart phone operating systems capable of running third-party applications, consumers are able to customise their devices with applications tailored to their own needs. Future mobile trends point to a widening of this segment, with third-party applications breaking into the mainstream mobile market.