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Optical/IP

FMC: $3.7B by 2009?

Research firm Infonetics Research Inc. is predicting that the voice-over-WiFi market will be worth $3.7 billion by 2009, driven by the arrival of inexpensive dualmode devices on the market over the next couple of years.

Infonetics analyst Richard Webb is expecting that initially consumer dualmode devices will cost between $200 and $250 as they arrive on the market over the course of this year. "I expect we are still a year to 18 months from sub-$100 dualmode WiFi/cellular phones," says Webb.

Webb is predicting that the market will really start to blossom as these devices arrive in late 2007 or early 2008: "From that point on, dualmode phones ramp up quite dramatically in our forecast. Even if they account for just 1 percent of total cellphone sales by 2009, which we think they will, that is still a ton of phones, hence our forecast of $3.7 billion. It looks a big number when you first look at it, but not so big when you think of the potential for these devices."

This fall in price of FMC devices will likely stimulate the consumer side of the market, according to Webb. "The enterprise market has been the largest driver for WiFi VOIP so far, especially for singlemode phones offered by the likes of SpectraLink, Cisco, Zultys, et al," he says. "However, with a big push on VOIP from broadband service providers, and the launch of consumer-oriented WiFi handsets from Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, it is highly likely that the consumer market will become a big driver/proportion of the overall WiFi VOIP market."

Webb is predicting that as the enterprise market evolves from singlemode devices to dualmode devices the smartphone format will become more prevalent. "Of course, there are dual-service phones around aimed at the enterprise space, but these are fewer and still show small shipment volumes. They tend to be more... expensive than the consumer version by a couple of hundred quid or so."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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