Public telecomms operators will come under increasing pressure over the next three years to replace voice revenues with better data services, as new competitors encroach on markets such as voice over IP.
John Lilley, principal telecomms analyst at Gartner Group, criticised some European PTOs this week for their slow roll-out of technologies such as ISDN and frame relay, and warned that new niche competitors might steal their markets.
"PTOs need to expand and prioritise data services?.over the next three years business users will expect voice and data over frame relay, ATM, and IP services," he said.
The first IP-only carriers would begin to appear on the scene to take advantage of the big carriers' sloth, he noted, particularly as Internet access and IP-related services were the driving force behind most of the growth in demand from corporates for wide area bandwidth.
Frame relay would be the growth technology in the growth of end user expenditure on public data services, overall reaching $6.1 billion in 2001 from $3.2 billion in 1997. Of this total, frame relay would take its share from around $400 million last year to $1.8 billion in 2001.
However key inhibitors would have to change. These include the lack - until this year - of ISDN dial-up for frame relay, allowing PTOs to take the chance to sell customers more profitable leased lines; extremely complex tariffing of frame relay services by Deutsche Telekom and others; and limited interworking between different data services - IP-only connecting to ATM for example.
X.25 will retain a significant share of the public data services market, given its wide penetration in France and Germany, but Lilley claimed the turning point had been reached and corporates would increasingly move to frame relay. He predicted it would shrink from having 80 per cent of overall end user expenditure to less than 35 per cent.
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