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Alcatel sees Asia Pacific embracing convergent technologies
SYDNEY, Australia -- Increasing demand for broadband technologies in the mobile and wireless space are encouraging Asia Pacific countries to adopt convergent technologies that could deliver rich multimedia content such as IPTV, voice-over-IP, streaming video and audio.

Network infrastructure firm Alcatel is expecting Asian countries, especially those that have a critical mass of Internet and mobile users, to be the first to move toward convergent networks. By doing so, rich content can be delivered to any device through traditional fixed-line platforms or through wireless networks.

At a regional conference here, Alcatel Asia Pacific President Christian Reinaudo said operators across Asia are either implementing or starting to look into upgrading their networks to convergent infrastructure as they follow end-user trends toward rich media content.

“There is a huge appetite for innovative video and audio experience both for the mobile and fixed line space. For instance, worldwide demand for IPTV could reach 70 to 100 million users by 2010, up from 2.6 million users this year. Asia, on the other hand would expect to have 16.5 million IPTV users by 2010,” Reinaudo said.

Reinaudo also said mobility is one of the key drivers for convergent networks. Mobile users, in particular, need to get personalized content straight to their mobile phones or personal digital assistants while constantly being on the go.

Reinaudo also noted that rich content services have to be priced according to consumers’ capacity to enable more users to have access to multimedia services. However, he said competition from smaller and independent service providers could further push prices down as carriers and larger service providers try to compete.

Voice services would continue to drive the overall telecommunications business in Asia. However, VOIP is seen as a disruptive technology against incumbent operators but that would change as demand for VOIP pushes carriers to find new service delivery models that could still generate significant revenues for them.

Alcatel Director for Global Market Positioning Dave Hills said that across Asia revenue from data services is gradually increasing while revenue from voice is slowing down. In addition, revenue from mobile phone services is also increasing and fixed-line service is almost flat in terms of revenue.

“There are new challenges that the incumbent carriers are facing, one of which is a decrease in demand for voice services, particularly in the fixed-line space. What many Asia Pacific carriers now are doing is to come up with new service schemes that would benefit both their mobile and fixed-line business. Deploying convergent networks is a key factor,” Hills said.

Hills added that there could be changes in the way independent service providers are dealing with their larger counterparts and the carriers when it comes to revenues. By getting higher bandwidth, more rich multimedia services can be included as part of a package and carriers would have to ensure that their networks are fully utilized.

“The business for independent content providers could grow when carriers start implementing convergent networks. The opportunities are there especially when end-users demand content that they don’t get from just a mobile or fixed-line network. Convergent technologies open new opportunities for the telecommunications firms and content providers,” Hills said.

By Alexander Villafania

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