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Mobile Operators Building Next-Gen Networks

Mobile operators will create their next generation networks using a range of wireless broadband and cellular technologies, including W-CDMA, WiFi, and WiMAX, says a new report by Infonetics Research.

And they're moving fast. According to the study the 18 North American, European, and Asia Pacific carriers interviewed spent an average of $2.9 billion in 2005 on next gen mobile and wireless broadband equipment, and will spend $4.1 billion in 2007, a 41 percent increase.

Mobile users want to replicate their wireline broadband experience on the go, driving 3G uptake. This will push carriers to spend a healthy proportion of their next gen mobile and wireless broadband capex on upgrading from 2.5G to 3G base station systems.

"The range of available applications accessible via a mobile handset is going to rapidly expand over the coming years," said Richard Webb, directing analyst at Infonetics Research. "For example, most of our respondents offer mobile/wireless VPN services by 2007, interactive gaming is offered by 83 percent of respondents by 2007, and caller ID, unified and multimedia messaging, and video download/playback all grow to 72 percent by next year. Not surprisingly, IP-based multimedia and video services are expected to be the bedrock of future revenue growth."

Sample Findings
- The top 3 drivers for adopting next gen mobile or wireless broadband are: bundling with other services, reducing opex, and offering new applications
- The top 2 top drivers for deploying IMS and next gen voice equipment are: availability of new applications and services, and lower operational costs
- 22 percent of respondents have deployed the fixed WiMAX standard (802.16d), growing to 50 percent by 2007
- 6 percent of respondents offer bundled VoIP with WiFi now, growing to 44 percent by 2007
- 3G and WiMAX show the most dramatic growth by 2007 among wireless backhaul solutions, possibly indicating a trend away from fixed-line solutions
- The number of 3G base stations deployed by respondents nearly triples between 2006 and 2007, driven by operators' intent to offer video and mobile IPTV services
- Respondents say their key 3G infrastructure design requirements include high quality video capabilities, fast network reactivity, high session rate, and high capacity
- Evolution from 3G to 4G will be driven by services that offer better quality, greater bandwidth, more sophistication, and improved personalization

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