If Telstra's projections are accurate, 98 percent of the population will have access to 3G mobile services following the aggregation of its existing GSM and CDMA networks paving the way for a new era in mobile application adoption, according to group managing director of Telstra product management Holly Kramer.
Kramer said in her keynote address at this year's Wireless Australia summit in Sydney today that more than 2000 corporates are already using wireless e-mail, indicating its acceptance by enterprise IT departments. The venerable BlackBerry - once a "luxury of the corporate elite" - is becoming more pervasive down the ladder.
"2006 will be a landmark year for wireless in Australia [and will] define wireless broadband services," Kramer said. "Traditionally, it has been fat wireless pipes, but it now expands many aspects of wireless service delivery."
Kramer said business services, including messaging and vertical applications are becoming critical to reaching customers in new ways, such as mobile Eftpos payments.
"Wirleess e-mail will become more pervasive [and] 3G cellular technology is the next step on this path," she said, adding that by 2010 more than 45 percent of the population will have 3G-capable phones. "The more work we can do to build network redundancy and SLAs for business customers the more acceptable it will become."
Predicting wireless will play a central role in business as it becomes more pervasive, and is included in next-generation PDAs and mobile phones, along with the ongoing evolution of wireless broadband devices, Kramer said the strong demand will put pressure on "us as carriers to deliver".
Telstra's "3G City to Country" network will cover 1.6 million square kilometres and 98 percent of population through the combination of the GSM and CDMA at HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) speeds.
"The end result will be a single wireless factory based on 3GSM [with] average data rates of 500Kbps to 1Mbps, but we expect to have 14Mbps at launch," Kramer said. "This will converge voice and data with the advantage of a 3GSM ecosystem that is also supported worldwide. This is the network of the future."
Kramer acknowledged the awareness of the possible impact resulting from the carrier's decision to exit the CDMA network, but reiterated the company line that it will remain in place until 3G replaces it with service levels "as good or better".
"The price performance is making the case for wireless adoption that it's better for business and government customers," Kramer said.
To enable an integrated mobile business environment, Telstra has partnered with identity management vendor iPass to improve the security and manageability of mobile devices for business customers.
iPass CEO Ken Denman, also speaking at the event, said taming devices "in the wild" is one of the pain points IT managers have to deal with. It can be a significant problem set and one that, if not solved will "stymie the next wave of productivity".
We shouldn't put "customers in an environment to buy something to protect themselves from the last thing they bought", Denman said.
"Enterprises must adapt to how employees work [and] students are becoming addicted to wireless freedom and speed. Enterprises must be good at it because it will be a differential. E-mail is business-critical and there is a growing trend to bandwidth-hungry, hosted applications."
Denman said CIOs recognize "this is something that will bury them if they do not address it".
"The cost of managing mobile devices is growing exponentially [and] the cost for remote access has exploded; this will grow more rapidly if we don't get our head around it," Denman said.
The cost to business of managing mobile devices will grow to $US1 billion by 2009, according to IDC.