Public telecoms operators (PTOs) will come under increasing pressure over the next three years to replace voice services with better data services, as new competitors encroach on markets such as voice over IP.
John Lilley, principal telecoms 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.
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 (#3.6 billion) in 2001 from $3.2 billion (#1.92 billion) in 1997. Of this total, frame relay would take its share from around $400 million (#240 million) last year to $1.8 billion (#1.08 billion) in 2001.
However key inhibitors would have to change. These include the lack 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.
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.
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