|Asia-Pacific I 2002
|Going mobile with IP-based Networks in Asia-Pacific
|Member of the Board
|Siemens Information and Communication Mobile (IC Mobile) Group
The Internet is becoming as common on-the-go as at the desk. “Seamless” access will soon be part of our daily lives. Mobile data services, including multimedia, already account for a growing percentage of operator revenues and increased ARPUs. Mobile data will surpass voice traffic in the future. Asia Pacific regional usage of mobile Internet, e-Mail and SMS is among the highest in the world. IP-based networks and 3G broadband will provide a consistent interface, sophisticated content and high-speed, multimedia – anytime, anywhere.
The internet has become an integral part of our business and personal lives. Conducting business today without the Internet is unthinkable. With email we are able to send messages with the click of a button and just about every sort of information can be found on the Web. Another great innovation which has greatly influenced the business world is mobile telephony. GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) had its debut in 1992 and was originally intended to serve as a standard for European mobile operators to greatly simplify roaming between networks and countries. Often referred to as 2G mobile telephony, GSM has since enjoyed tremendous success to become the most popular mobile telephony standard worldwide. In some countries the penetration of mobile users has already exceeded fixed telephone subscriptions. Trends show that the worlds of Internet and mobility are merging. Worldwide there are approximately 730 million mobile subscribers and nearly 390 million Internet users. As more and more people go online and become mobile users, the number of combined Internet and mobile subscribers is expected to increase to more than 750 million by 2005. At the same time, access to the Internet isn’t limited to a PC anymore. Thanks to a growing availability of wireless broadband technology, users can gain access to the Internet with mobile telephones and hand held devices, making such features as “multimedia on-the-go” an everyday experience. Why IP based networks? In the past, data traffic over wireless has been limited to services like SMS (Short Message Service) messaging and dial-up. More recently, rudimentary Internet access using the wireless application protocol (WAP) has emerged as an enticing feature for mobile devices. While far away from high volume data traffic, the impact of WAP illustrates the value that companies, customers and end-users place on ubiquitous access to the ultimate source for news and information – the Internet. As the offer of data services for mobile devices increases, operators will collect an even larger percentage of their revenues from data services. By 2010 revenues generated from data services are expected to exceed those from voice transmission. With the increase in data transmission, mobile and fixed networks now have to be designed for multimedia, data-centric, traffic. The transmission of this data can best be achieved with packet transport using Internet Protocol (IP), due to the proven success in the fixed Internet world. IP-based networks have the capability to offer users a consistent user interface, whether a wired or wireless connection is used. The user will have one ID in the network, keeping access specifications to a minimum. A seamless IP-Network will manage the user’s mobility throughout the network, and provide global roaming for all access technologies as well as vertical interworking between different networks. This will insure seamless security and quality of service. Additionally an “always on” feature allows the user to use the services continually. Asia-Pacific leading in trends The trends mentioned above with the convergence of Internet and mobile telephony are very prominent in the Asia-Pacific market. Based on current trends, it is expected that the wireless data services will continue to enjoy wide acceptance in Asia-Pacific. In a current survey of 6 Asian countries nearly 90% of those asked use text messaging (SMS). Mobile Internet and Email are already showing promising figures as well: nearly 10% already use their mobile phones to access these services and with better transmission rates it will grow tremendously. Location based services are expected to enjoy wide acceptance among users as well – more than half of those surveyed expressed interest in location based services. With this service messages can be automatically sent when a customer passes a favorite store or restaurant to receive a special discount through their mobile device. (Data: IDC) By offering a wide range of data solutions, customers can be accustomed to using these services early on, keeping a steady and growing ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) for network providers. In fact, a survey of the Thai mobile market, which is described as being in the early stages of development, revealed that subscribers are generally willing to pay for mobile data services, especially in the urban Bangkok area population. Surveys in Malaysia revealed similar results; nearly 40% of those with WAP enabled mobile phones use this feature on a regular basis (Siemens). On the IP side, Multinational Asian corporations are increasingly using IP-based data services to seamlessly connect with other global operations. IP offers corporate customers many advantages such as security, scalability and lower costs. This is topped off by a general open-mindedness in Asia in regard to innovations in mobile telephony, a factor which shouldn’t be forgotten. Technology convergence As the Internet and mobile technologies converge, standardization bodies will need to work together to ensure that industry wide standards set the stage for a true mobile Internet. In regard to IP, they need to work together to specify a target architecture, and develop a clear end-to-end IP view, to exploit the benefits of IP. Independence from access technology and an operator-driven forum will further enhance the adoption of IP backbone networks. Standardization bodies need to look past their traditional areas of expertise. On the network side, the 3GPP (The 3rd Generation Partnership Project) has successfully promoted GSM, GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) and UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) architectures. Increasingly Internet technology and principles are being taken into consideration by 3GPP. On the Internet front, IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) have laid the foundation for today’s Internet. Work is underway to adapt Internet technologies to wireless networks. These cooperative efforts can help solve technological challenges such as quality of service, security, SIP and carrier grade availability. Operator’s Perspective Due to their inherent architectural concepts and the client-server architecture, IP-based services have been very successful in the fixed Internet and IP is seen as an enabler for a multitude of new mobile applications. Advantages like richness, profitability, flexibility via open APIs (application program interface) all speak for the adoption of IP-based infrastructure. Furthermore, IP offers speedy deployment of new services and network resources are utilized more efficiently and can be adopted for new scenarios. A unified, converged IP backbone network will reduce costs for operators (CAPEX and OPEX). Within the near future we will observe the advent of new value chains related to this rising world of data business. An example is a ‘Mobile Portal’ which acts as a customizable gateway to mobile content, services and applications. Operators can choose various levels of partnerships with application, service and content providers dependent on where it sees its core competencies and main sources of revenue. An example of an early Mobile Portal business model has been DoCoMo’s I-mode portal services in Japan. I-mode adopted an open access portal service, which has led to phenomenal growth and significantly increased ARPUs in Japan. Using this business model, NTT DoCoMo has raised its ARPU by 25 – 30% through subscription fees, commission fees as well as increased video and data traffic. To date, mobile operators have increased their revenues by increasing their subscriber numbers. Steadily falling voice based ARPU’s can be offset with mobile Internet applications like Infotainment. By offering customers new and differentiated data services, operators can be assured of a sustainable, steady and growing ARPU. Mobile Future with 3G The full possibilities of wireless Internet will be realized when Third Generation (3G) networks are available on a wide basis. With higher data rates of up to 1.984 Mbps the network operator can offer services such voice streaming or conversational video communication. 3G services have already begun with Siemens’ introduction of 3G networks on the Isle of Man and in Monaco, the first 3G networks in Europe. These European 3G networks are based on Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS). Our vision of future mobile communication networks includes multi-media communication for mobile wireless devices in heterogeneous networks using IP end-to-end. We are committed to drive an open Internet-based architecture for mobile wireless networks that is independent of the radio access network. With IP based mobile networks, the user will be able to access the Internet and enjoy full mobility due to IP transport and routing means and inter-technology roaming and hand-over. Devices of the future will make use of applications which merge both the mobile networks and the Internet (e.g. location based services) an everyday experience. IP will allow users to benefit from services and applications which are provided by independent application providers around the globe. All in all, users will be able to experience unified services and applications independent of the location, the roaming situation and the used access technology. Outlook There is a bright future ahead for mobile business, when the two most important tools in the business world, the Internet and mobile telephony, are merged. Mobile user all over the world will benefit from the mobile Internet. They will have more freedom to work where and when they want. With UMTS tests being carried out in Singapore and Taiwan and GPRS trials in Thailand and Malaysia, Asia-Pacific is on the right path to broadband mobile Internet. Asia-Pacific operators can be assured of increasing their ARPUs with mobile data services. They’ll have a sustainable source of income for a bright future. Asia-Pacific is in the right position to become part of the mobile Internet from the start.