Optical/IP Networks

Mobile VoIP's an 'Unstoppable Train'

Mobile operators need to drop the hostile attitude to VoIP and figure out how to make these new services and applications work for them as the industry moves to future IP-based networks, the August edition of the Unstrung Insider finds. (See Mobile VoIP Goes Mainstream.)

The research report, "Mobile VoIP: A Disruptive Service Goes Mainstream," finds that pricing pressures, new competitive entrants, and technology changes are forcing a move to packet-based services even as many operators continue to block mobile VoIP applications.

The report’s author, John Blau, writes that mobile VoIP is coming whether operators like it or not. It is just a question of when:

Many incumbent operators continue to block mobile VoIP. There is no compelling reason for them to stop milking their circuit-switched voice cash cow – yet. But mobile VoIP is an unstoppable train due to consumer demand for less-expensive mobile services, enterprise demand for fixed/mobile convergence (FMC), and the transformation of the network to an all-IP architecture. Operators will eventually jump on the mobile VoIP bandwagon – if just to gain some experience ahead of all-IP 4G. Many are likely to collaborate or even outright acquire some of the upstarts to put their hands on experience and proven technology.
The report profiles some of these new players, including fringland Ltd. , Jajah Inc. , and Talkonaut. Blau also looks at some of the rare mobile operators, like Hutchison 3G UK Ltd. , that are already taking a chance on VoIP, and how handset vendors, such as Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), are quietly incorporating VoIP technology on their phones.

Those involved with the technology are starting to view packet voice as more than just an inexpensive alternative to circuit-switched voice, as the price of phone calls across all forms of networking is dropping anyway.

“Mobile VoIP is no longer just a cheap telephone call,” writes Blau. “It is one big component in a unified communications mix, which includes voice-enhanced IM, voice mashups [voice extensions to applications like Facebook], and more. The quest to develop next-generation IP-enabled communication services will lead to new startups, spur existing players and incumbent operators to new heights, and drive partnerships between both groups moving forward.”

This will still involve a lot of technical work around developing VoIP specifications for next-generation IP networks. For instance, the technical standards around VoIP for Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks are still evolving. Vendors, meanwhile, will need to define things like quality of service (QoS) for WiMax networks, since such elements are not defined yet. (See NSN Goes Solo for LTE Voice.)

Nonetheless, “sooner or later, mobile operators will be forced to deploy their own VoIP services,” Blau concludes. “In a decade or so, mobile VoIP services will be as ubiquitous as the circuit-switched telephony we use today.”

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

The report, Mobile VoIP: A Disruptive Service Goes Mainstream, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Unstrung Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.unstrung.com/insider.

Be the first to post a comment regarding this story.
Sign In