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Wireless Automation Growth Forecast

Mobile subscriber markets in highly developed regions of Europe, North America and Asia/Pacific are becoming saturated and the heady growth seen just a few years ago is inevitably slowing. Moreover, as markets tend towards saturation, additional subscribers generally bring lower levels of overall spending. Data markets are still new and relatively untapped but the efforts required by mobile network operators and service providers to persuade subscribers to spend more on data services are costly and there is no guarantee that subscribers will not be lured away by offers from competitors.

So where else can mobile operators and equipment vendors look for future high growth rates? Wireless automation, telematics and M2M have been waiting in the wings for several years, growing steadily from a low base. Freda Benlamlih, author and mentor of a Informa Telecoms & Media�s strategic report believes that conditions are now coming together for automation technologies to take off more strongly and become a central part of our daily working and personal lives.

Among the many findings, the authors forecast that operator revenues from WWAN (cellular) module traffic could exceed $80 billion by 2010, representing annual average growth in the region of 50 percent per year. From an operator perspective, there are some clear advantages to be gained from wireless automation solutions. While ARPU levels may sometimes be low, solutions providers do not expect wireless
modules to be subsidised in the way that mobile handsets are and problems of churn are far less likely to arise. Customer acquisition and support costs are also low, so average margins per user compare favourably with standard subscriber services.

A plethora of new and not so new technologies are coming onto the wireless automation scene besides WWAN. These include short range technologies such as Bluetooth, RFID, WLAN/WiFi, Zigbee, NFC and potentially UWB, as well as longer range technologies such as TETRA and WiMAX. While these can represent a competitive threat, the different technologies are often being combined to make up more efficient solutions that maximise cost-effectiveness. Examples include RFID and WWAN in freight and logistics applications and Bluetooth in medical monitoring solutions.

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