brings you occasional feature articles from well known names in the cordless
telecommunications industry. If you would like to offer an article for
consideration please e-mail us with your
biographical details and an outline for the proposed feature.
The current feature is contributed by Dominic Clancy,
International Product Marketing Manager with Philips Semiconductors, and addresses the
issue of why data is of importance to the cordless industry.
Dominic has been involved in cordless telecommunications since its inception,
having undertaken the first market studies back in the 1980's and having previously worked
for BIS-Mackintosh (now part of the Giga Group), GPT and Motorola.
Back to Features Index
WHY IS DATA IMPORTANT FOR THE
CORDLESS COMMUNITY ?
by DOMINIC CLANCY
As the telecommunications world becomes more competitive
every day, it
is also clear that data also has a higher profile in our lives.
the telecom operators already see that the level of data traffic
their networks is increasing - to the point that in some
that data traffic exceeds the level of voice traffic in the
In a parallel development, the cellular operators are
targeting the market for residential users. By reducing
off-peak tariffs, and by introducing home-cell tariffs, they are
starting to offer their customers residential telephony through
cellular service at no cost premium. This gives these
the real option of dispensing with the fixed line for voice
The cellular operators are therefore starting to target the core
the cordless market, the home user of the simple cordless
In the words of one operator :
"90% of all mainstream communications - data as well as
voice- will be
on wireless networks, with most households having more than one
The attraction for the user is clear - in many cases a subsidised
cellular handset and service costs the same (or less than) a
phone. Cellular is increasingly used by students and young
the ONLY phone they have, and as they get older, there is little
obvious reason for them to change their telephony habits.
is reinforced by a study in the USA that concluded that 42%of
Americans would switch to mobile services if the price was
to fixed line service. For the cellular handset
existing volume of cordless phones would also be a nice addition
their annual sales!
The cellular community however has a significant weakness
armoury. The existing cellular systems are unable to
compete with the
V90 modem technology of the fixed network. The data rates
and to increase them significantly requires channel combinations
make the service financially unattractive for mainstream users.
is also the question of how the cellular networks would perform
presence of large numbers of data users in multi-channel
applications. So it is in the area of data that the fixed
operators have their advantage, and the cordless terminal
manufacturers have to look for their long-term survival.
This analysis is not altered by initiatives such as Bluetooth
cellular community. Bluetooth addresses the connection interface
physical difficulties of getting your cellphone to communicate
your laptop easily and at low cost (sometimes referred to
as the end
of "Plug and Pray"). But it does not address the
issue of relatively
low data rates on the cellular network, even under the new packet
standards that are now to be introduced. It is of course
that in a mobile environment, convenience and mobility is the
selling point, but once those benefits are not the primary
requirement, cellular technology and Bluetooth become less
In the business world, there are many examples where cordless
has brought real productivity and service improvements. But
majority of the PBX suppliers are ill positioned to help
realise the full benefits of cordless. This would require a
approach more like the systems integrators of the computing
Not only are these skills in short supply in the PBX sales force
the world, but the whole PBX distribution process is not
oriented to this type of solution.
It is also notable that in most cases where data has been offered
cordless product offering, it is in conjunction with ISDN.
reflects an obsession with high end telephony offerings, which is
unfortunate. This is partly a result of the high cost
of the systems
(which have therefore been forced to a high end market
ISDN data represents a niche of the whole data market, cordless
even more so. Many data communication applications never go
telephone line at all! In most cases they are between
devices, in an
office, in a factory, in a store. In the small business
focus is also on basic services, rather than "high end"
is also expected that those systems that do (or will in the
require a telecommunications service will in any case look to
higher data rates than are currently provided by ISDN.
will be provided by a variety of links, for example by Cable TV
systems, through xDSL local loop technology, and through wideband
satellite or microwave services. These requirements will be
the PC world, rather than the telecommunications world; by the
internet rather than by voice.
So what are the key success parameters for cordless in the
particular in the world of data ?
It is first important to identify the market segments.
segments are the Home user, the small business user, the
and large corporations. In addition, there is a segment
huge community of integrators who are so far poorly targeted by
The Home User
The home user is actually a very wide market segment, with a
set of requirements and applications. The most fundamental
is convenient connection of the PC and modem to the telephone
without running cables. The most sophisticated is a fully
communications system linking together all the devices (PC and
Visual) in the home.
A high proportion of these needs can be met with cordless
For example, Philips uses the same chip that is built into
DECT phones for data products. The software that provides
caller line identification and conference calling is replaced by
that handles serial data transparently through the system.
difference is the software on the chip, so the data equipment
manufacturers are able immediately to take advantage of the high
residential business and the resulting low prices for the chips.
same radio parts are used in both residential and data product.
cordless is able to offer speeds already up to 512kbps, and with
modifications coming to the standard, 2Mbps will soon be
For the higher speed in-home data connections, particularly
audio-visual applications, other standards are likely to be used,
these are predominantly supported by the Consumer
manufacturers. The main ones of these are Sharewave and
For the small business, the main requirements are for data and
in a single system. In contrast to many other earlier
such systems, the systems have to be low cost, cheap and
install and maintain, (even such that the non-technical small
owner can install a system themselves) and above all easy to
understand even for the technophobes. Voice is essential in
systems, but with the increasing use of email in ALL companies
industry sectors, data becomes a requirement in even the smallest
The Mobile User
The mobile user that I identify as a segment is NOT a cellular
Rather the mobile user is one who goes from point to point with
specific (and closed) communication requirements. The
picture is a meter reader, who could go along a street in a van
read the meters very quickly for all the household utilities,
cordless link. It is expected that such co-operations in
services will be the shape of the future, and there are already
independent organisations offering these services to the utility
companies. So far they do not use wireless services
it is expected that this will be common in the future.
machine companies are another target - it is calculated that one
person can fill 40% more machines in a single day if they go to
machine just once, with exactly the right supplies to replenish
machine. Cordless data is the ideal technology to provide
The mobile user is also a good example of the need to sell
technology actively to the integrator community. There are
thousands of different data applictaions that are dreamed of
week by hundreds of different companies throughout the world.
So far the cordless community has only scratched the service of
applications, and has made very little of the opportunity that
here. The majority of the systems are already existing -
wireless capability. But in adding the wireless capability,
integrators can greatly increase their value-added, and make
current products more in tune with the emerging needs of their
There are many more applications for data transmission than
"Data, not voice, will be the primary form of traffic"
Dataquest's analysis of internet and interactive technologies.
believed that with products that seamlessly replace cables with
cordless links in these simple systems, many more integrators
incorporate cordless capability into their existing products, and
develop new applications based on cordless capability. This
idea behind the Philips Semiconductors "Virtual
This leads on to the question of why cordless is not perceived as
need in large business. This gact is constantly reported by
analysts, who also report similar low density penetration of
in this segment. The reasons are various, but I will try to
them. First, all large corporations are sensitive to financial
implications of introducing systems where they cannot easily
the cost or quantify the benefit. Often those
responsible for the
financial implications are not the ones to benefit from the
introduction of the system! Second, the sales approaches
this sector are often inadequate to overcome this basic
are often a by-product of selling to a different segment.
Thirdly, larger corporations often have integrated information
systems, and look to see new data or voice technologies
integrated. This is very seldom offered, because the
providers of the
data system have no knowledge of cordless, and the providers of
telephone system usually have no knowledge of the data systems.
role of the Systems Integrator is a useful one here, but such a
function does not exist in the telecom world. So the real
why cordless is not perceived as a need in this segment is NOT
the need does not exist, merely that it has not been correctly
identified and packaged as an integrated product.
This is difficult for many integrators to do, because all the
manufacturers have made integrated products themselves for one
application only - the PBX. The rare ones who have made
have seen their market rapidly eroded by the integration of
cards in almost every PC, and the growth of less
architectures has further reduced the available market.
So why is data important for the cordless community?
The cordless market continues to grow at a tremendous rate, and
increasingly the trend is that digital cordless replaces analogue
the product offered by the retailers. The cellular
Europe also look to the residential users market as a new growth
opportunity. In providing voice only services, their
attractive, particularly among the young. .In the provision of
communications, cellular services are not attractive except in
applications where wide area mobility is an issue. In a
increasingly uses the internet as a basic tool, and where
connectivity is a commmon feature of many consumer electronic
cordless technologies are able to fulfill many of the
the emerging cordless data / home wireless networking market.
Philips Semiconductors supports this vision in its products for
European and US cordless standards. We believe that
will in time become a standard feature in a cordless telephone,
same way that digital answering devices are also becoming
residentail base stations. By offering such functionality,
that the cordless community can offer consumers products that
make them less tempted by the enticements of the cellular world.
About the Author
Dominic Clancy is International Product Marketing
Manager in the
Telecom group of Philips Semiconductors, based in Zurich,
The groups products include chipsets for digital cellular,
cordless, digital answering machines and wired telephony
Back to Features Index
Back to Top