Global telecoms operators have stepped up efforts to eliminate the barriers between wireless and wired phone services, according to a newly released study.
The research, conducted by Heavy Reading, predicts that the next three years will define the way that fixed-mobile convergence will take root in the world's telecoms networks.
Graham Finnie, Heavy Reading senior analyst and author of the report, said: "Vendors and service providers have consistently targeted 2006-07 as the period in which fixed-mobile convergence will make the transition from theory to reality. This means that the time to prepare is already at hand."
The study said that fixed-mobile convergence will take place first in the core network as carriers integrate backbone wireline and wireless networks to cut costs and eliminate redundancies.
The industry move to IP networks is already underway, and will be the unifying force at the network core, according to Finnie.
End-user devices will require a mix of different wired and wireless access options so that users can take advantage of the best available connection, because no single technology will dominate.
In the wireless world, for example, emerging technologies such as Wi-Fi and WiMax are expected to coexist as access options.
The market research firm predicts that the biggest challenges to fixed-mobile convergence may be organisational and political, rather than technological.
While equipment suppliers are confident that the technical barriers between wireless and wired services can be breached, it remains to be seen how long the organisational and institutional barriers separating wireless and wired network operators will remain.
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