Stick to short, quick-exit mobile deals, users told

Corporate users should prepare now for a massive consolidation of mobile phone operators that could leave only three operators...

Corporate users should prepare now for a massive consolidation of mobile phone operators that could leave only three operators standing in each country.

Gartner analyst Nick Jones, speaking at the organisation's annual European symposium in Cannes earlier this week, warned users to avoid long-term contracts; build in escape clauses to their short-term contracts; and develop contingency plans fast as many mobile operators will either go bankrupt or merge in the near future.

"We will see just three mobile operators in each European country and of all operators across Europe, only three will be pan-European," he said.

The news is better on the wireless network front, but users should not anticipate any consolidation there for some years. The sheer range of topologies, costs, bandwidth ranges and scale of the various wireless networks means that by 2007 organisations can expect to have at least five different wireless networks installed in their organisations.

"Your IS infrastructure must build on the assumption that you cannot predict what devices your staff will be using - you need dynamic middleware which is independent of specific devices," he warned.

Jones scored the business readiness of the Europe-wide area mobile ecosystem at just five out of 10. "We are one- to two years away from a limited ecosystem deployment, while widespread effective mobile business deployment is three- to five years away," he said.

There is still much work to be done to build a robust Europe-wide mobile business ecosystem, Jones said. The financial infrastructure, including progress towards micropayments or multi-channel billing, are still in their embryonic stages, he added.

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