In a trend expected to profoundly affect how businesses plan and pay for telecommunications services in North America, an analyst firm says mobile phones will outnumber wired lines and desktop phones in the office by 2011.
Gartner Inc. recently updated a forecast for business phone usage, showing that workers who use only a mobile phone comprise about 4 percent of all workers today, a number expected to reach 23 percent in 2012.
With that growth, the number of workers with only a desktop phone will remain slightly above 10 percent between now and 2012, Gartner said. The first year that more users with only a mobile phone surpasses desktop-only phones is 2011.
The forecast also shows that business users with both a mobile phone and a desktop phone will be the overwhelming majority of users, going from more than 80 percent today and decreasing to less than 70 percent in 2012.
Gartner analyst Phillip Redman attributed the growth in mobile phones in businesses to a strong trend toward corporate support of cellular services. While companies used to have individuals put cellular service charges on expense reports, companies are starting to pay upfront, he noted.
Wireless e-mail and the emergence of smart phones that can be integrated with IP telephone systems have helped the wireless adoption trend, he added.
Redman urged IT managers to begin planning for an investment timeline for wireless. He said that planning for internal cellular coverage will also be necessary, since some cellular signals can be weak inside of large buildings.
Another preparation would be to consolidate telecommunications services with one provider to get the best deals. Gartner has begun seeing carriers offer large business users 25 percent discounts off list prices for bundled, unlimited flat-rate calling for voice and data services, Redman said.
In addition, Redman urged IT shops to move to support of fewer device platforms to lower application development and support costs.
Help desks also need to be staffed with personnel familiar in device platforms and wireless operations.
This story, "Mobile Phones to Surpass Landlines by 2011" was originally published by Computerworld.