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Business Case for WLAN, UMA, VoWLAN

Over the last two years, WLAN has transformed from a network of stand-alone hotspots into a supporting technology for delivering convergent solutions, clearing the way for VoWLAN. According to Pyramid Research VoWLAN mid-tier handsets will come to market this year, placing MVNOs, fixed and cable providers in a position to make a strong play for mobile voice revenues.

�A combination of factors makes the introduction of VoWLAN inevitable, notably demand for mobility emanating from fixed carriers, mobile providers� search for a cheap technology to carry IP voice bundles, and WLAN technology�s near-readiness to support voice,� says report author Svetlana Issaeva. Pyramid expects WLAN to deliver voice as early as 2006; whether in combination with other technologies, such as 3G, WiMAX or DSL, or on its own in city-wide hotspots.

For fixed and cable providers, the VoWLAN business case is clear � add mobile voice to their portfolio of services to win a share of mobile traffic and retain subscribers. For mobile operators, the case for VoWLAN is less clear.

�We believe the inevitability of VoWLAN leaves mobile carriers with little option but to beat the threat by joining in,� comments Issaeva.

Mobile operators will continue to draw revenues from the termination of calls originated on WLAN networks, increase wholesale traffic revenues from fixed-carrier MVNOs, and deploy WLAN networks at a lower cost than mobile IP networks.

Additionally, WLAN networks will enable the offloading of cheap voice to low-income segments - including students - allowing the operator to develop flat rate voice plans with lower QoS, which for all intents and purposes is the next step in the evolution of voice services pricing.

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