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Networking & Communications

By Jeanne Lim, ZDNet AsiaVoice over IP (VoIP) and wireless technologies figured strongly over the past year in the networking industry, as these technologies matured and gained greater market acceptance.The Net calling market also drew huge media attention this year following a slew of announcements by search giant Google which announced Google Talk featuring voice chat, and online auctioneer eBay which announced plans to acquire Luxembourg-based Skype.

By Jeanne Lim, ZDNet Asia

Voice over IP (VoIP) and wireless technologies figured strongly over the past year in the networking industry, as these technologies matured and gained greater market acceptance.

The Net calling market also drew huge media attention this year following a slew of announcements by search giant Google which announced Google Talk featuring voice chat, and online auctioneer eBay which announced plans to acquire Luxembourg-based Skype. Yahoo's plans to buy Internet start-up telco Dialpad and Microsoft's plan to expand MSN Messenger features also fueled market interest.

In the integrated voice and data networking market, vendors elbowed each other to roll out products to meet growing demand. Not surprisingly, IDC's research showed that enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region in 2004 spent a total of US$480 million on IP telephony lines and equipment, more than twice the US$218 million invested in 2003.

The wireless networking market, however, has been a mixed bag of fortunes. The adoption of wireless networking technologies, such as WiMax, is forecast to grow, however, the take-up rate of mobile applications is expected to be slow.

According to research firm In-Stat, the subscriber base of WiMax in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow from 80,000 last year to 3.8 million by 2009, accounting for 45 percent of the world's total. Less positive news is in a study, which was conducted in July by IDC on wireless deployment of over 2,000 companies in the region. The report revealed that 21.4 percent have enabled Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) access for their employees, and over 80 percent said they did not plan to implement mobile enterprise and vertical applications within the next two years.

However, telecommunications service providers continue to find reason to cheer as analysts forecast a surge in broadband adoption and SMS (short messaging service) traffic in the Asia-Pacific region. Frost & Sullivan expects broadband revenues to increase from US$16.8 billion in 2004 to about US$42.1 billion in 2008, while Portio Research's estimates SMS traffic will double to exceed 1 trillion messages by 2010.

The players that made it to the ZDNet Asia Top Tech 50 list are Avaya, British Telecoms, Dell, Emerson Electronic, Ericsson, F5 Networks, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, Intel, LG Electronics, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Siemens, SingTel, and Symbol Technologies.

Competition will continue to be rife as networking giant Cisco, AT&T, D-Link, Enterasys, Foundry Networks, and Netgear turn up the heat in the Asia-Pacific region. The small and medium-sized business segment will be one of the key battlegrounds for companies like Cisco and D-Link. The service provider market is also one to watch, according to a bullish John Chambers, CEO of Cisco.

Going forward, more industry developments can be expected. For example, Intel and Cisco Systems announced in August joint plans to improve the reliability of wireless computer networks and the quality of Internet voice communication.