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Wireless: A Bright Spot in the ’08 Economy

Fri, 04/11/2008 - 9:00am
Justin Panzer
Rohde & Schwarz and WDD Editorial Advisory Board Member
As it concerns the health of the U. S. economy, it’s hard to maintain an optimistic viewpoint these days. There is no doubt that many sectors of the economy face a major retrenchment. However, I feel there is ample reason to believe that the wireless marketplace will not be one of them. This may not be the best year ever for the wireless industry, but it won’t be a bad one either. Here’s why.

A new era in wireless is poised to begin, characterized by a wide array of new features and services for the world’s nearly 3 billion wireless subscribers. They will create new revenue streams for wireless carriers, and strong demand for wireless products, applications, and test equipment. In addition, completion of the FCC’s 700 MHz auction will create a number of new opportunities in the market–most notably in R&D efforts in the near term. The services operating at 700 MHz will require both infrastructure and user equipment, along with application software and ancillary services. These services won’t be rolled out in 2008, but development work should be intense, especially later in the year.

I also believe this will be a very strong year for the applications segment of the industry, creating new opportunities along the way. For proof, you need look no further than the trend toward an "open" environment that will foster development of new wireless applications that can be used on any network, and the emergence of GPS as a value-added application more integrated than ever into wireless communications devices. The ubiquity of GPS and growing consumer familiarity with GPS products may finally help the wireless industry realize the promise of location-based services.

Another positive indicator for the wireless market is the move, championed first by Verizon Wireless (followed by AT&T and others), to strip away confusing multi-tiered wireless pricing plans and replace them with an "all you can eat" plan that will likely increase landline-replacement activity.

Early indications from mobile device manufacturers, network operators, and chipset developers appear to provide further justification for these projections. Recent guidance from key wireless players indicates there will be strong demand in many product areas. There will no doubt be other positive indicators for the mobile market in 2008, but I believe those I’ve mentioned will be the primary contributors to a fairly strong year for the wireless world — and a bright spot in an otherwise soft economy.

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