IDC has heralded 2006 as the year of mobile VoIP but resellers will need to ride the convergence wave if they want to do well in the market, according to a company analyst.
The new report claimed wider-spread trials of wireless VoIP would take place this year, driven by mass market availability of dual-mode (Wi-Fi/GSM) handsets as well as IP telephony vendors' integration of Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) features into their IP PBXs.
The deployment of IP telephony systems had already surpassed those of traditional systems and WLANs were being increasingly installed at company sites, the report found.
"As such, combining the two technologies is a logical step especially for businesses with highly mobile employees, reaching beyond wireless VoIP early adopter industries like healthcare, education, retail and manufacturing," an IDC release stated.
IDC analyst, Shing Quah, said mobile and fixed convergence, the new dual handsets and the ratification of the 802.11n standard would extend uptake beyond early adopters this year.
But she warned the market was still a fair way from large-scale rollouts because there would be an initial pilot test period period.
"For the resellers, most of the opportunity will be at the systems integration end, because there will be huge demand for tailored solutions," she said. "Everyone will have different needs in terms of security and what levels of deployment they will need."
Quah said there was also money to be made for other resellers in the mobile VoIP space.
"If general resellers partner with niche players they will still be able to obtain good margins, but there is of course additional revenue if they add managed services on top," she said.
Even though telcos are increasingly looking to enter the managed services market - Telstra through Kaz, and Optus through Alphawest - Quah claimed this would not have a negative effect on systems integrators.
Independent telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde, agreed there was plenty of room for growth.
"So far telcos have failed to convince corporate customers that they are the best partners in managed networks," he said. "There are many others competing, especially IT and SI companies."
Quah said there would also be further consolidation in the systems integration space.
"This will just be because the ones that are not willing to get skilled up to deliver the convergence wave might find it hard to compete with their more innovative peers," she said. "In order to be successful, integrators will need skills in both voice and data."
However, Budde said Australia was still 2-3 years away from widespread mobile VoIP because wireless broadband had still not reached full maturation point.