Compaq eyes convergence, 3G business

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HONG KONG -- Eyeing the increasing convergence of the IT and telecommunications industries, Compaq aims to carve out a niche for itself in the new marketplace by leveraging its existing skills, Larry Schwartz, vice president and general manager of Compaq's telecommunications division, said in a keynote address Wednesday here at the Telecom Asia 2000 exhibition and conference.

"IT companies will play an increasingly critical role in building 3G networks," said Schwartz, adding that some analyst projections see as much as half of all third-generation (3G) wireless network spending going to IT companies rather than traditional telecommunications equipment vendors. "This is a spectacular sea change for an industry that has spent the last 100 years building specialized, complex, high-priced networking infrastructure with product life cycles of 10 years or more," he added.

"Consumers would like to see the industry work together to simplify use of our technology," Schwartz said. He offered the example of a WAP (wireless application protocol)-based service offered by Swiss mobile telephone carrier Diax. The service, launched a year ago with help from Compaq, enables skiers to get up to date, location-based snow condition information for the local ski slopes.

Such an application, said Schwartz, was possible because Compaq brought its IT technology together with that of Diax.

The telecommunications industry, he said, needs more of the same type of cooperative work. "Partners who bring their unique skills to the table, partners who can work quickly together and successfully towards a common goal. The goal of delivering on the promise of the wireless Internet."

Schwartz's speech came a day after Intel president and chief executive officer Craig Barrett delivered a keynote speech that also focused around industry convergence. Barrett urged the telecommunications industry to adopt open standards and an IP-based core for next-generation converged voice and data networks.

Martyn Williams is Tokyo correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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