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Mobile

Convergence Hits Core Barriers

Carrier challenges at the core network and billing level look set to be the major obstacles holding back future deployment of combined wireless LAN and cellular services, to judge from the results of this month’s Unstrung poll: The Convergence Conundrum.

With a head of steam building up behind the concept of WiFi/cellular convergence, it has been suggested that a potential lack of dualmode devices will be the biggest stumbling block to success (see Report Eyes Convergence Glitch).

Not so, say Unstrung readers.

25 percent of 118 respondents claim “the difficulty of handing off between the two different networks” is the major issue that could hold back carrier implementation of combined wireless LAN and cellular services. A further 20 percent are flustered by “the headache of working out billing issues.”

Only 16 percent cite “the scarcity and cost of dualmode devices” as the primary concern.

As for which firms will benefit most from convergence, “alternative service providers” such as TowerStream Corp. and Vonage Holdings Corp. are picked as the greatest beneficiaries, notching up 30 percent of the vote. “Traditional wireless carriers” pick up 27 percent of the vote, outperforming the likes of Skype Technologies SA and other VOIP client providers (14 percent). (See Is There a Convergence Crunch? and The Third Way of Convergence.)

On a more predictable note, enterprise users are touted as the market sector most likely to drive initial demand for converged devices (66 percent), rather than “consumers” or “niche markets such as education and healthcare" (21 percent and 13 percent, respectively).

Finally, the concept of a dualmode 802.11/cellular device -– “one less device to lug around” –- is touted as the major advantage offered by bringing together wireless LAN and cellular technologies (31 percent). The possibility of cheaper voice calls over 802.11 networks is also noted as another positive (28 percent).

Moving on, this month’s poll takes a look at the comeback trail being laid by wireless mesh networking. After a false start in the late '90s, interest in the applications mesh networking can enable -- such as WiFi metro-zone hotspots, self-healing enterprise networks, and easy-install home networking -- has recently been rekindled as the popularity of related wireless technology like 802.11 has grown. Have your say on how this still immature market will evolve by clicking here.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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