Feeds

Broadband wireless threatens 3G voice ambitions

VoIP poised to strike

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Calculations of the threat to 3G revenues from broadband wireless have focused mainly on data, but as some 3G carriers put voice in a more central position in their strategies, they could find that route roadblocked too. The third generation UMTS and CDMA technologies may have been the first to promise both voice and broadband-class data on one network and device, but the emergence of usable VoIP over wireless has moved formerly data-only approaches into this space too. Roadmaps for data networks such as CDMA EVDO and 802.16e now feature VoIP, and now so does the plan for UMTS’ dataonly strand, TDD.

Chipmaker Atmel has worked with IPWireless, the main supplier of UMTS TDD equipment, to produce a TDD mobile handset offering VoIP as well as the usual broadband packetbased services. The two companies have completed the first successful transmission of a call from a mobile VoIP handset over UMTS TDD, and claim the network is ideal for voice because it features high capacity, low latency, and low power requirements. The prototype, which has an unnamed OEM manufacturer, is based on Atmel’s AT76C902 VoIP system on a chip with the IPWireless TDD Module. Phones should be commercially available in mid-2005.

While IPWireless lacks the market weight or the OEM support to take on the mobile operators as WiMAX and Flarion Flash OFDM aim to do, it is certainly making its technology more appealing to its traditional base of independent operators, which include the UK’s PCCW. Their services will be more compelling if they can offer voice and they will, therefore, be less likely to opt for a pure IP solution such as 802.16 instead of TDD.

The move shows that any technology hoping to take its place in the next generation of networking needs to support voice, and associated requirements like quality of service, effectively. This then shifts the competitive landscape for the technologies that previously claimed control of the voice delivery market.

The shift is already clearly visible in the CDMA market, even without taking challenges from broadband wireless into account. Last month, Verizon Wireless’ CTO Dick Lynch said the next upgrade of EV-DO equipment, called Rev A, which promises peak data rates of 3.1Mbps, would also carry voice over IP, and so could make a further upgrade to the next CDMA generation, EV-DV (Evolution – Data and Voice) unnecessary (see Wireless Watch September 30 2004). Rev A equipment will start shipping next year and, although EV-DO with VoIP will take advantage of the spectral efficiencies of CDMA less well than EV-DV, this will be outweighed by early availability and lower prices.

In UMTS, while TDD with VoIP will not have the same effect on its bigger brother that EV-DO could on EV-DV, 3G can no longer expect to take all the voice revenue for itself.

3G can deliver voice for a quarter of the cost per minute compared to 2G and so operators are looking to cut their overall delivery costs as users move from 2G to 3G and to displace wireline voice revenues. The promise of this business model could be severely disrupted by VoIP over WiMAX, especially for operators like 3 that are now relying primarily on low cost voice minutes for growth. In the IP world, users will become increasingly accustomed to having cheap voice bundled into an overall flat rate package, and operator delivery costs will be even lower than for 3G.

Their current ARPU hopes from voice could be severely threatened by broadband wireless options as these become more seamless and quality assured than the current voice over Wi-Fi options.

Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

Related stories

PCCW opens kimono (a little) on UK broadband wireless plans
Nokia to rejoin WiMAX Forum
Wireline operators flock to WiMAX

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.