The recently formed Fixed-Mobile Convergence Alliance (FMCA) will need more members if it is to influence fixed-to-mobile convergence and the development of new services, according to a report from industry analyst Gartner.
The FMCA currently comprises six telcos: Brasil Telecom, BT Group, Korea Telecom, NTT Com, Rogers Wireless and Swisscom.
Gartner said that such a small group, with more than five times as many fixed-line as mobile customers, cannot address all the challenges of fixed-mobile convergence, such as air interface, handset features and working with home location registers.
But the noticeable absence of equipment vendors from the alliance may allow the carriers to focus on specifying the kinds of services that can be made available, noted Gartner.
This could help send a common message to equipment vendors on which direction to take in the development of infrastructure and handsets.
Some vendors already anticipate convergence. Ericsson has already reorganised its operations for fixed line and mobile equipment into one unit, and others are expected to follow suit.
Siemens and Alcatel are also known to be involved in convergence projects with such operators as France Telecom.
Gartner also warned that the FMCA faces internal challenges, including issues relating to the back office, such as support systems, billing, operations and provisioning, which could throw up more issues than technical development.
Gartner recommended that the FMCA set an aggressive timetable for turning the concept of convergence into a plan of action, while equipment vendors should commit to supporting both fixed and mobile technologies.
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