Telecommunication firms need to transform their technological capabilities to meet the demands of delivering new services, according to analyst company Gartner.

As voice revenues decline, telecoms carriers “have less than five years to come up with a new IT and network infrastructure and applications that will support the new digital services”, Jean-Claude Delcroix, research vice president at Gartner warned.

By 2012, half of the 20 largest carriers will offer a greater array of high-tech services to offset fast-declining voice revenues. These include music downloads, streaming services, small payment mechanisms and ticket ordering services, Gartner advised.

Fifteen percent of leading telcos' revenue should come from non-traditional sources within five years, Gartner said.

Telcoms carriers should become “IT and network factories”, and avoid becoming simply “bandwidth providers”.

But telcos must also be prepared for coming into direct competition with internet firms of all sizes, as well as hardware manufacturers.

Mobile operators have the further challenge of preparing for next mobile technologies, including long-term evolution (LTE) and fourth-generation (4G) technologies.

"The price of mobile data services and devices is too high for mass usage today, so through 2012, carriers need to devise a better road map, with new mobile digital services that require less bandwidth but offer users good value for money,” said Delcroix.

“Opportunities for new digital services range from extended transmission services to content services and IT services," he said. "The main challenges will be a much more competitive environment and a much more intense use of IT in the delivery of services by CSPs [communications service providers].”

But telecoms firms will benefit from their market intelligence, integration of systems and data, and cost advantages from overlaps between services, Gartner said.

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