Global spending by local government bodies on mobile and wireless solutions last year hit US$802m and looks set to hit US$8.6bn by 2010, new research by Juniper Research reveals.
Juniper says that independent wireless networks capable of interoperation with 2G and 3G systems are central to the mobile future for local government.
Wi-Fi has been widely used since 2002 for wireless broadband in local government networks but the much greater range and higher data-transfer speeds of WiMax will drive its emergence as a wide-area broadband infrastructure solution for local authorities.
According to the Juniper report, entitled ‘Mobile Local Government: Opportunities and Strategies for Wireless Technologies and Applications’, mobile broadband connectivity will bring major operational benefits to local government.
The report’s author Dr Douglas Houston said: “Some 802.16 technologies are set to have wide market impact over the next five years. Major operators worldwide including BT and AT&T have conducted WiMax trials.
“Among their objectives has been the testing of 802.16 wireless networks’ effectiveness in extending existing services to remote locations without wired infrastructures.
“The standard’s ability to provide wireless broadband backbones is making it of considerable interest for government and education in developing countries,” Dr Houstan adds.
According to the report, local government mobile and wireless expenditure on systems software will rise from $0.12bn (2005) to $1.3bn (2010), overtaking expenditure on systems hardware, which will stand at $1.1bn by 2010.
Portable and handheld end-user telecommunications devices will form the largest component of overall local government expenditure on mobile and wireless systems will generate revenues of $3.4bn by 2010.
Juniper believes advances in memory capacity, display and input technology and seamless interoperability will gradually raise the number of handheld devices acquired annually for local authority use to 10 million by 2010, overtaking procurement of wireless laptops.
By John Kennedy