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Commentary: COPS not arresting

Gartner says that despite the striking claims for Lucent's Common Operations, or COPS, the software will probably yield at best an incremental improvement in global wireless service.

By Tole Hart, Gartner Analyst

Despite the striking claims for Lucent Technologies' Common Operations, or COPS, the software will probably yield at best an incremental improvement in global wireless service.

The reason lies in one important limitation of COPS: It would not eliminate the need for users who want to roam between networks with different standards to have cell phones with different radios--for example, one for CDMA and another for GSM. COPS will not allow a CDMA-only cell phone to roam into a GSM network.

The major wireless carriers have already started to address the demand for global roaming by striking agreements with each other. For example, Nextel Communications uses the iDEN standard but has roaming agreements with GSM carriers in Europe. Customers of those carriers who travel abroad can get dual-radio handsets that work on both networks. Thus, Nextel can offer service to its customers who travel to Europe without having to pay a fee to a carrier there for carrying a call on its GSM network. VoiceStream, a GSM carrier, has similar arrangements with Europe's GSM carriers.

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Lucent calling the COPS
What COPS does offer is an alternative way to implement roaming agreements between carriers. Carriers will adopt COPS to the extent that it proves more cost-effective than carrier-to-carrier agreements. If COPS does prove cost-effective, it should not be terribly expensive or complicated to install the software on wireless networks.

To put the whole issue into perspective, international calling accounts for only a fairly small fraction of the global wireless market. However, global roaming is important to multinational corporations, so carriers find it a good selling point. COPS may make global roaming easier and cheaper to implement, but it's probably not going to change the market fundamentally.

(For a related commentary on the global wireless market, see Gartner.com.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.