Wireless service providers’ uncertainty about wireless intelligent network revenues and their focus on switching and radiofrequency infrastructure means intelligent network spending has taken a back seat to other infrastructure concerns, says a study conducted by Technical Marketing Services.
After interviewing more than 70 vendors and service providers, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm said it has built a model that will allow the industry to compare investment in and potential return from WIN platforms and services.
IN technology used in a wireless network provides mobility management and the ability to offer a variety of enhanced services, said TMS. Subscriber applications provided by WINs include voice mail, short messaging service, unified messaging, wireless Internet/intranet access, voice activated dialing, personal number service, virtual private network and calling party pays. Debit card and prepaid services also are IN-based services, said the company.
The company’s study, “Wireless Intelligent Networks: North America 1997-2002,” concludes that operator spending on IN infrastructure has the potential to be a good investment. Estimated IN-related revenue is expected to be much higher than the IN investment in each forecast year, said TMS.
The North American WIN market is estimated at $82.8 billion in revenues for the forecast period 1997-2002, said TMS. Total revenue for 1997 is estimated at $3 billion, with revenue in 2002 estimated at $22.6 billion. This equates to a compound annual growth rate of 49.8 percent, said the study.
“While the projected return on investment in IN infrastructure is encouraging, the transition away from proprietary switch-based services to a more open, standards-based intelligent network architecture has not been without its difficulties,” wrote TMS. “Traditionally, the choice of wireless infrastructure vendor has dictated what intelligent network or enhanced services platforms are available to a service provider. This has led to closed proprietary solutions, where the infrastructure vendor provides the intelligent network platforms as well as the switch.”
The platform must work with the infrastructure provider’s switch unless a feature or function can be provided by a point solution, said the study.
This means cooperative performance testing must be completed. Cooperative testing is complex because different versions of the same switch have different message sets.
This market dominance has been aggravated because new service providers building out their networks require tight integration of the switch and platforms, according to TMS.
However, a gradual move away from this dominance by infrastructure vendors was expected by most of the industry professionals interviewed, said TMS. This change will be pushed by several factors: the adoption of the Telecommunications Industry Association’s WIN standards; a drive by carriers to make vendors work together; and service provider mergers and consolidation that will create multivendor networks.