Wi-Fi technology will overtake traditional mobile networks due to its low cost and ease of integration associated with mobile applications, according to leading Australian telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde.
In a recent blog post, Budde wrote that Wi-Fi is becoming a means for IT managers to cut the cost of their cellular mobile bills.
Budde wrote that a range of new smartphone apps, in particular Skype, was diverting telephone traffic away from the mobile networks and instead towards internet-based networks.
"While this will not immediately affect the local market, people are becoming more aware of the option of Wi-Fi to make long-distance calls using their smartphones – all on top of the broader mobile broadband explosion," the blog reads.
Further, Wi-Fi offered a faster and in some cases, cheaper alternative for accessing mobile broadband services rather than via traditional mobile networks, Budde said.
“The recent introduction of Wi-Fi Direct has also increased the competition between it and another short-range wireless technology – Bluetooth,” the blog reads.
Wi-Fi Direct, the certification program from international trade association, Wi-Fi Alliance, allows Wi-Fi devices to talk to each other without requiring "hot spots".
Discussing the impact on telecommunications providers, Budde wrote that greater investment in Wi-Fi was needed if telcos were to keep up with mobile broadband demand.
“Smartphone users want faster, more ubiquitous and reliable connectivity, while operators are looking to squeeze every last bit of capacity out of their cellular networks,” the blog reads.
“As a result, smarter Wi-Fi is needed so that it can take on a more strategic role as part of the overall mobile network infrastructure.”
Dubbing Wi-Fi as the "quiet achiever" in the telco market, Budde said chip manufacturers were now focusing on the wireless sector.
“In the midst of short-range wireless technologies there is also Ultra-Wideband (UWB), which has struggled due to competition and lack of applications,” he wrote.
“UWB chip manufacturers have now turned their attention to the wireless HD connectivity sector.”
A radio technology able to be used at very low energy levels for short-range and high-bandwidth communication, UWB communications transmit in a way that does not interfere with more traditional narrowband and continuous carrier wave uses.
While enterprises were the leading users of Wi-Fi technology, small business and the "hotspot" or localised use of Wi-Fi such as in coffee shops and restaurants would shortly lead the technology's use.
“This level of sophistication is emerging in enterprise and carrier markets,” Budde said. “But it will, of course, eventually find its way into the hotspot market, where it will become the critical hub for the rapidly increasing home network market.”
The news follows Telstra's announcement it would move to 4G mobile by end 2011, with the telco using new 4G technology to boost mobile internet speeds in capital cities and some regional areas.
CEO of the telco, David Thodey, said the demand for 4G would help the company meet an increase in demand for mobile data, which is being driven by the adoption of smartphones, mobile modems and tablets.
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