Interoperability: Big Challenge for Mobile Messaging

Mobile-messaging services have been greatly enhanced by both the Internet and digital personal communications services (PCS) technologies, but a lack of interoperability among various technologies are hindering market expansion, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

The new U.S. Mobile Messaging Markets report says that this industry segment generated revenues of $571 million in 2000 and is projected to surpass $5 billion by 2007.

Anytime/anywhere connectivity will be “the cornerstone” for the success of mobile messaging, said Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Kshitij Moghe. “Consumers are demanding an effective and inexpensive way to remain connected whenever they are traveling.”

The holdup in greater interoperability, according to the firm, is competing network technologies such as global system for mobile communications (GSM), code division multiple access (CDMA), and time division multiple access (TDMA). Because of this, the overall industry is experiencing related interoperability constraints in the form of closed messaging platforms.

For short message services (SMSs), most carriers traditionally use the simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) to transmit data within their own networks. However, SMTP does not allow connectivity among different networks for messaging applications and is the primary restraint for domestic industry growth, Front & Sullivan said.

“This inherent lack of network interconnectivity has led to a limited scope for the adoption of SMS in the U.S. market,” Moghe says. “To overcome this challenge, infrastructure vendors are currently involved in defining standard protocols to enable seamless connectivity.”

An even-bigger threat at the network level, the firm said, is handset and device manufacturers’ continued use of private technologies, especially in the data-centric device market. Wireless Internet providers have developed proprietary products to offer their wireless e-mail services to the enterprise market, but device interoperability is not guaranteed.

Key participants in the industry, according to Frost & Sullivan, are:

Frost & Sullivan also presented its “2001 Marketing Engineering Awards” to companies it said have “worked diligently to make a positive contribution to the mobile messaging industry.” The market-specific awards were presented to Ecrio, Nokia and Verizon Wireless.

Frost & Sullivan provides strategic market consulting and training. This ongoing research is part of the Mobile Communications Subscription Service, which also includes market analysis on U.S. Mobile Internet Access Markets and U.S. Mobile Location-Based Services Markets.

Bob Woods is the managing editor of

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