By Lynn Tan, ZDNet Asia 29/01/2008 URL: http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/communications/0,39044192,62037124,00.htm

IDC has revealed its top 10 telecommunications predictions for the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan (APEJ) in 2008. These include greater demand for Web 2.0 and unified communications applications such as collaboration tools within the enterprise, as well as increasing awareness in IP-surveillance products.

In its report released earlier this month, the research house also identified green communication technologies as a priority among businesses in the region. As a result, products and services that are environmentally friendly, such as videoconferencing, are expected to gain traction.

Top 10 telecom trends in APEJ for 2008

1. Multimedia applications Enterprise adoption of WLAN (wireless LAN) is expected to grow when the 802.11n standard is ratified in 2008, IDC predicted. This is because the 802.11n standard will "remove obstacles that have previously impeded" enterprise-wide adoption of WLAN and is expected to pave the way for larger scale deployment.

In addition to improved security, bandwidth and range, the standard is likely to enable the "seamless delivery" of unified mobile applications--which the current combination of wired and wireless networks has problems tackling. As such, its technological strengths will drive greater usage of multimedia applications such as videoconferencing, IPTV (Internet Protocol TV), video-on-demand, multiroom DVR (digital video recorder) and voice over WLAN.

2. Streaming services IDC noted that although data streaming has been around for a while, its performance on GPRS (general packet radio service) and 3G networks has been "too slow and too inefficient". However, the arrival of HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)which could deliver speeds of 3.6Mbps or greater"breathes new life" into music and video streaming, as well as "bring mobile TV into reality".

Streaming services are expected to enhance operators' revenues as long as tariff plans are simple and content has appeal, said the analyst firm.

3. All-IP mobile core network According to IDC, there will be more APEJ mobile operators migrating to an all-IP mobile core network in 2008. GSM operators that do not have a 3G license and are looking to roll out the next-generation wireless data services are expected to migrate their mobile switching center, base-station controllers, customer care and billing systems, SMS (short messaging service) and other value-added voice services to an all-IP core.

This is because an all-IP mobile core network provides operators with flexibility in scaling up to new bandwidth-hungry applications while preparing for a future 4G-network design at the same time, the report noted.

4. Mobile 2.0 applications The introduction of HSDPA, coupled with the rise of Web 2.0 technologiessuch as blogging and video sharingwill help create opportunities for mobile operators, IDC noted.

"Mobile versions of various Web 2.0 applications will accustom subscribers to use their mobile phones for communications and social networking purposes," the research house said. "As users become more comfortable and more compelled to use their phone to access the Internet, operators are posed to gain from greater data usage."

According to IDC, most Asian carriers recognize that creative content development could lead to enhanced revenue, and as such, mobile operators are expected to be "very active" in developing and pushing mobile 2.0 applications in 2008.

5. Opportunities in verticals As "highly customized service brings higher premium", the telecommunications industry has been placing great emphasis on delivering tailored products for various industry verticals, IDC said.

The study predicted that the gaming, healthcare, hospitality, off-shoring and retail sectors in APEJ will hold great revenue potential for telcos over the next few years.

6. Eco-friendly communication services While server and datacenter consolidation will be one of the immediate focus points of making IT environmentally friendly, videoconferencing is another area that will become increasingly popular as it "resonates well with "green IT", the report said.

"Enterprises will increase pressure on their partners and suppliers to provide 'green' solutions, not only for the purposes of meeting environmental compliance regulations, but also from genuine concern for the environment," IDC said. It expects more green initiatives in 2008 and beyond.

Wireless communication networks Wireless communication networks will become more popular in certain markets as mobile operators use the technology to offer unlimited voice call that resemble fixed-line services, IDC predicted. It added that fixed-line penetration remains low in a number of emerging markets such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

8. IP surveillance With IP-surveillance tools currently being deployed in Beijing, China, as part of the 2008 Olympics security plan, 2008 is set to be a "big" year for the technology. "Businesses will be receptive to IP surveillance due to increased security concerns, as well as IP surveillance's cost effectiveness," IDC said.

The emerging technology will become popular in the gaming, financial services and retail industries, the study noted, citing physical security as a primary concern for these vertical industries.

9. Unified communications and Web 2.0 As the gap between personal and business communication narrows, there is an emerging focus on Web 2.0 and unified communications (UC) offerings for the enterprise, IDC noted. "Enterprises will move beyond UC and start embracing Web 2.0 with a focus on collaboration, customer analytics and targeted smart search applications in 2008."

According to the report, the need for constant presence, information and more effective communication and collaborative workflows are factors driving the adoption of UC and Web 2.0 applications at the workplace. IDC predicted that 2008 will be the year where these services will gain traction in the enterprise space.

10. HSDPA and mobile WiMax HSDPA and mobile WiMax will "cooperate and compete" for market share in the APEJ wireless broadband markets--where HSDPA will be the "winner" for 3G carriers and mobile WiMax the "winner" for 2G carriers as well as fixed-line providers, predicted IDC.

It noted that wireless broadband technology is a cost-effective offering that could address the demand for connectivity in markets that have moderate to high broadband household penetration, as well as households that are still not connected to the Internet or even the analog telephony POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service).