Wireless VoIP: Wireless VoIP remained a wireless home networking phenomenon in 2005 despite the anticipation that carriers would launch the first wireless VoIP compatible handsets and handhelds this year to let users make VoIP phone calls at authorized hotspots or on corporate campuses. Several technical problems still exist when it comes to wireless VoIP, including QoS, coverage, service handoff and power consumption. Two major trends must happen for third-party VoIP providers to flock to wireless broadband like we saw in the wired broadband world. Pricing will have to move down to the range of $30 per month, and smart devices will have to be priced reasonably. This won't happen until carriers begin to position their services as replacements to other broadband alternatives such as cable and DSL.
Wireless on aircrafts: Airline passengers represent a huge revenue potential for the wireless industry as more than 1 billion passengers traveled by aircraft in 2005. Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Austrian Airlines have all installed WiFi on their aircraft. We will see legislative reviews of in-flight mobile communications in 2006 to allow mobile communications on planes. Verizon Airfone has already been demonstrating a CDMA system to commercial airlines by conducting flight tests that have achieved ground-to-air data speeds of 2.4 Mbps. Upon receipt of a license from the FCC, Verizon Airfone plans to upgrade its existing North American ground network to enable this broadband capability.
IMS: We saw a significant amount of buzz surrounding the potential of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystems). Sprint is aggressively moving toward IMS, Cingular announced a deal with Lucent in 2005 and other operators are investigating the technology. In theory, IMS has the power to fill in the gaps between all disparate telecom technologies to enable the convergence of data, voice and mobile network technology over an IP-based infrastructure enabling, for instance, the quick and cheap provisioning of multimedia services such as mobile TV and video calls. The IMS hype will slow down in 2006 as operators realize the importance of actually moving their physical network over to IP first and understanding which service-specific IMS implementations might make sense.
LBS: Location-based services (LBS) fell off the industry's radar screen in the last three years but is making a comeback, albeit slowly. Sprint Nextel has proven that there is a consumer market for LBS and is now porting its successful iDEN-related applications over to the CDMA network. Look for Verizon to announce some sort of LBS play as it hinted it would last year.