Telecom managers will need to get a handle on which technologies are likely to emerge in the telecommunications industry over the next five years because users are going mobile with or without IT support.
About 27 percent of the Australian workforce is currently mobile but this figure will rise rapidly in the next few years forcing IT departments to facilitate enterprise mobility, according to Nick Ingelbrecht, principal analyst at Gartner responsible for the Asia Pacific mobile research program.
"If wireless is going to be the glue for mobility, IT managers need to know what new technologies will evolve, taking into account expectations have changed. Back in 2003, 128 Kbps was broadband but in 2007 its 512 Kbps," Ingelbrecht said.
The only certainty is rapid change over the next five years, he said, with faster data rates and constant upgrades which is why enterprises will pick and choose what they need in the location they need it.
In this environment, Ingelbrecht said it is critical not to get locked into any long term contracts.
"It is important to undertake annual benchmarks because of the high rate of change, the price of 3G is coming down and the costs involved in switching contracts is considerable," he said.
"WiMax has got a long way to go although some WiMax handsets will appear in 2008. However, WiMax will lag behind 3G handsets until 2011.
"Mobile WiMax has a lot of potential and is worth exploring, enterprises should do some benchmarking against established providers like iBurst and Unwired."
Ingelbrecht also made reference to significant mesh network deployments at Edith Cowan University in Perth and more recently at Sydney University.
Interestingly, he said Gartner research shows enterprises are remarkably optimistic when it comes to mobile technology with 30 percent of respondents expecting to use 4G next year.
But Ingelbrecht warned 4G will not be available in Australia until 2011.
"It's hard to understand why Australian IT managers are so optimistic but there is a lot of hype in this industry which makes it hard to measure at times," he said.
"At this stage enterprises shouldn't worry about 4G but exploit 3G as much as they can."
Meanwhile, Nortel is teaming up with leading universities across the globe to develop new technologies that will help meet the growing demand for 4G mobile broadband applications like video, mobile TV and other multimedia services.
In the Asia Pacific this includes Taiwan University. In Australia Nortel was recently named technology provider of choice for Macquarie Graduate School of Management, having signed an agreement to collaborate with the school on wireless networking technology, although the local agreement does not specify 4G at this stage.
Nortel is currently investing in 50 innovation initiatives with more than 20 major universities and research consortia around the world to help fuel a new era of communications.