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21 September 2006


Dual-Mode cellular/Wi-Fi handset shipments to top 300m in 2011

In 2011, shipments of dual-mode (cellular/voice over Wi-Fi) wireless handsets will be well in excess of 300m worldwide, according to the new study 'Voice Over Wi-Fi Handsets' from ABI Research. However, the arrival of femtocell access points towards the end of the study's forecast period may
prove disruptive for the market.

Handsets based on the 802.11n protocol will outnumber those of other protocols in those 300m shipments. "Cellular handset vendors have made sure that their voices have been heard in the 802.11n standards process, so they
are getting all the optional features that they want," says senior analyst Philip Solis.

Solis adds that smartphones saw the earliest introduction of the Wi-Fi mode. However, because of UMA (and later SIP-based) solutions, Wi-Fi will make its way into 'enhanced' (or 'feature') phones relatively quickly. Mobile
operators are looking to UMA, but telecom companies and other players in the market are more interested in SIP-based solutions.

Wi-Fi enabled handsets, however, may have to compete with the upcoming opportunity of femtocells, the new, small cellular base-stations designed for use in residential or corporate environments. Like Wi-Fi access points,
they connect to the customer's own broadband connection. Their lure is of greater network efficiency, reduced churn, better in-building wireless coverage, and the abilities to shape subscriber data usage patterns and to build platforms upon which fixed-mobile convergence services can be realized - essentially the same reasons for using Wi-Fi-enabled handsets.

"As frequency reuse issues are resolved, femtocells will provide some counterbalance to the trend towards dual-mode handsets," notes Solis. "Some operators now believe that they don't need to subsidize more expensive
Wi-Fi-enabled handsets; they can use the handsets they have, and put femtocells in the home."

That would certainly slow down voice over Wi-Fi market's momentum, but UMA is moving forward nonetheless. "It's all about who controls the customer. Mobile operators can use UMA to keep the customers who want to use cheaper
wireline minutes," says Solis. "It's good for the end-user and it's good for the operator, because it uses the customer's own broadband connection to backhaul the traffic to the core network."

Visit: http://www.abiresearch.com