The good news -- and we need all of that we can get -- is that the worldwide financial meltdown is not debilitating every sector of the economy. Infonectics analyst Stephane Teral says the recession isn't changing his expectations for fixed mobile convergence (FMC), the mixing of cellular and wireless networks. Commenting as part of IT Business Edge's look at the year ahead, Teral voiced optimism:
All in all, we do not anticipate a major slowdown in the FMC market because it's a small emerging market that provides unique opportunities in a recession: affordable value-added service. We expect a significant number of stranded consumers to ditch their traditional wireline service in favor of a more affordable UMA service.
Teral previously painted a positive picture for FMC. In October, he said that dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular FMC phones hit $7.6 billion in the second quarter of 2008 and were gunning for a 16 percent increase for the year. FMC network elements -- including network controllers, voice call continuity (VCC), application servers and multi-access convergence gateways -- jumped by a factor of five between 2006 and 2007 and will grow another seven-fold between 2007 and 2011. Among other things, the report says the number of FMC subscribers jumped from 1.7 million in 2007 to 9.7 million in 2008.
A couple of weeks ago Teral pointed to Orange and T-Mobile as examples of companies that are pushing ahead with FMC. European carrier Orange, Teral says, recently launched a 3G service using unlicensed mobile access (UMA), a form of FMC.
It's certain that a bad economy will not slow down the lawyers. In November, Calypso Wireless filed a patent-infringement suit against T-Mobile USA. The claim is that the carrier's HotSpot@Home service uses technology that Calypso developed. Despite a lawsuit or two, Teral's relative confidence extends to the States:
There is a live VCC RFP in North America that should lead to a $50 million spending project in 2009; in fact, we have significantly raised our North American VCC forecast.
The preponderance of the sources I've read during the past year-recent examples were summarized in blogs in November and December-generally share the optimism. Many of those articles were put together, however, before the depths of the economic problems were recognized and factored into projections. The question now will come down to whether companies will feel comfortable making investments even if they understand that they will reap greater rewards down the road. Bad economies tend to reinforce the innate conservatism of most CFOs and CEOs. It's good to see that Teral feels the investments still are on track.
One piece of evidence supporting Teral's position emerged in mid-December when Mavenir Systems, a FMC company, raised $17.5 million in a third funding round. Investors in the round include Austin Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners and Alloy Ventures. It stands to reason that the company would only be getting a big check in the mail if it were delivering on its promise. Significantly, that is overtly mentioned in the release. The CEO says that the company is involved in trials and rollouts both in North America and Europe.