Q. How many years away is fixed-mobile convergence?
The telecommunications industry is in the midst of the megatrend of IP (Internet Protocol) convergence, with the shift from circuit-based networks and system to IP packet-based networks being driven by the new, rich service innovation opportunities and cost savings they offer. Every level of the value chain is evolving: fixed operators are looking to take advantage of reduced infrastructure and maintenance expenditure; mobile operators hope to accelerate fixed-mobile substitution by offering services previously available only from fixed lines; and enterprise and end users are eager to see the benefits of reduced call tariffs and the advanced services that IP systems offer.
Also, the IP revolution is going on simultaneously with another telecom trend: voice goes mobile. Mobile subscriber penetration exceeds 100 percent in many mature markets, while in many emerging economies, mobile users far exceed the number of fixed subscribers. And even as the high-speed data capabilities of mobile networks increase, voice is still expected to be the most significant mobile application. Cellular voice service will remain circuit-switched for some time to come, but combining VoIP and mobile networks can make a perfect match, delivering clear benefits to enterprise users, consumers and operators.
Fixed-mobile convergence involves a unified core network, multi-radio terminals, other devices such as PCs, access networks that complement each other and common multi-access service delivery platforms. However, the success or failure will be determined by user acceptance and not networking technology.
There is a well-defined set of drivers, enablers, opportunities and issues. The market is the all-important driver. Developments such as smartphones, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), digitization of content and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) are key enablers. The requisite standards, protocols and technologies are quickly falling into place.
Name one long-standing market inhibitor of business mobility that will be addressed in 2007.
Business mobility is the ability to provide secure information at the point of business. With more information moving to the edge, the issue of mobile enterprise security becomes pertinent. Users are bringing a variety of consumer-oriented products like smartphones and handhelds into the enterprise to access e-mail, contacts, calendars and even line-of-business applications such as sales force automation tools. The real security threats are manifest by personal and corporate information being exposed to compromise in storage, during access and whilst in transport as well as some simpler form factor driven physical threats, such as simple theft or loss. Individual users and user group 'operational exposure' needs form a core component of the business threat assessment, before appropriate mobile security solutions can be prescribed for mobile devices.
Organizations will need to rethink their security policies to ensure mobile devices are treated with the same level of security as laptops. Device management will also become increasingly critical to manage the mobile solution lifecycle from initial device provisioning, device and security policy configuration, through to application deployment and configuration, and continual device software and policy enforcement updates. As the sophistication of IT security and the threats it must mitigate have increased, organizations need additional technologies to augment traditional firewall products. As attackers have moved beyond exploiting insecure networks to exploiting vulnerabilities in applications, enterprises must adapt a 'defense-in-depth' strategy. By enhancing security with solutions such as intrusion prevention and unified threat management, organizations can mitigate the increasingly sophisticated threats when deploying mobile applications. In addition, a holistic security strategy for mobile business needs to look beyond technology and consider the people and processes aspects.
Name one issue that you think the telco/communications industry should collectively work harder to address.
We would like to see continued collaboration between the government, public and private sectors to enhance understanding of the mobile society and its impact. We anticipate user behaviors to change with the onset of converged multimedia capabilities and accessibility of the Internet on mobile devices, and would like to see more innovations to increase the range of exciting content and applications especially for the S60 devices to enrich user experiences.
What's on your wishlist for mobile Internet in 2007?
The Internet has transformed the way we live our lives and communicate with each other. The next wave of the internet will be to make it truly mobile, creating new ways for people to connect to others and find information from wherever they are. Web 2.0 sites reflect the intrinsic need to share common interests, to look for support, obtain information, and interact using text, voice and video.
Today, mobile broadband Internet connections are available on a wide variety of mobile devices, making it possible for consumers to enjoy Web browsing similar to their experience at home or in the office. Advances in mobile Web browsers are also driving mobile Internet usage, offering customers an enhanced experience while surfing on the move. In addition, we see location-based experiences, such as mapping, routing and navigation, to be a fundamental platform for many applications in our devices going forward.