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2007: Let the crystal ball gazing begin

Renai LeMay weighs in with his 2007 predictions for the local telecommunications industry.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor
commentary Trying to predict the future of the Australian telecommunications industry always seems like an exercise in futility.
Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia
The pace of technological change alone ensures that today's hot property can quickly fade away into just a fond memory.

For example, to those of us who have been using the Internet to place voice calls at no charge for some time, the traditional telephony network certainly falls under this category.

And then there's the extremely dynamic business environment, which can see significant new players flourish and die with equal rapidity. Can anyone say "One.Tel"?

Yet perhaps it is human to wonder, as each year ends and becomes a new one, what that new annum will bring.

In your writer's opinion, the year ahead will be characterised by a continuation of heightened tensions between the nation's former monopoly telco Telstra, the competition regulator and the federal government.

According to an article published in the Australian Financial Review this morning, Telstra's campaign against regulatory constrictions may even result in a High Court challenge to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission under constitutional law.

Although Telstra's antics will grab headlines, behind the scenes the rest of the industry will continue to quietly build out its own next-generation fixed and wireless infrastructure to challenge Telstra's dominance.

Players like Optus, iiNet, Vodafone, Hutchison, Internode, PowerTel, Macquarie Telecom, Unwired, Commander and more will continue to put infrastructure out there to provide additional facilities-based competition in the market.

2007 might see significant consolidation among the ranks of these players, but odds are it won't.

The larger telcos with cash to burn seem to have been looking recently to diversify their offerings rather than simply buying customers with large acquisitions in their home territory.

Examples of this behaviour include the Alphawest and Volante buys that respectively gave Optus and Commander bigger, pure IT systems integration assets.

However, big question marks remain over Telecom New Zealand's troubled subsidiary AAPT, as well as upstart telco iiNet, which has been playing it safe since a sharp profit downgrade early last year.

With the big picture out of the way, now we can get down to the nitty-gritty details of which technologies will be hot and which will flop in 2007.


  • Broadband: The entrance of HSDPA wireless and new wholesale ADSL2+ options will push broadband adoption to new highs.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol: The adoption of VoIP by both consumers and enterprises will accelerate -- particularly as more ISPs start to bundle it with broadband to consumers.
  • Mobile data: 3G pioneer Hutchison has already proved customers want to access data through their mobile phone -- now the other carriers are following the money.


  • Video on demand: As with music, most consumers won't start to buy video online until an innovator like Apple makes it easier to do.
  • WiMAX: Large-scale WiMAX rollouts will fail to gain traction as they face competition from entrenched mobile broadband plays such as Telstra's nation-wide Next G network.
  • Fibre to the node: Regulatory difficulties will ensure neither of the two fibre to the node proposals floated by Telstra and its rivals will get off the ground.

2007 -- do you agree with my predictions or not? Drop me a line with your opinion at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post your thoughts below.

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