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4G/3G/WiFi

Mobile VoIP Goes Mainstream

Although the initial hype around mobile voice over IP (VoIP) has subsided, the hope to create a winning Internet voice business remains as strong as ever among an ambitious group of startups. They still see a market – albeit a transformed one – for the disruptive technology and continue to drive cracks into the circuit-switched voice fortress of mobile phone operators.

Many of these startups are broadening into new services. To them, mobile VoIP is no longer a cheap telephone call – it is a key component in a blend of integrated IP-based communications, including voice-enhanced IM and voice mashups. They hope to build a business by giving their base of active VoIP users a reason to stay inside their applications longer and, thus, create more opportunities to make calls and generate much-needed revenues.

The latest research from Unstrung Insider, "Mobile VoIP: A Disruptive Service Goes Mainstream," looks inside the nascent market for mobile VoIP applications and services. It analyzes the technology issues that have confronted mobile VoIP upstarts and the solutions they have developed to overcome them. it also explores the commercial and technical challenges and opportunities facing startups, mobile phone operators, and handset makers.

The penetration of smartphones, the emergence of new IP-based, voice-enabling techniques, and the growing availability of attractive flat-rate mobile data plans have helped spur adoption of new mobile VoIP services. Even though several incumbent operators continue to block these new Internet voice services in an effort to milk their circuit-switched voice cash cow as long as possible, mobile VoIP is an unstoppable train – because of consumer demand for less expensive mobile services, enterprise demand for fixed/mobile convergence, and the transformation of the network to an all-IP architecture.

Many operators will eventually collaborate or even outright acquire some of the upstarts to put their hands on experience and proven technology ahead of their plunge into next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMax network technologies, which do not support traditional circuit-switched voice service. Mobile VoIP represents a promising and natural step forward in the continued evolution of the industry.

At the end of the day, neither consumers nor business people want to think about the data services they use. They simply want to reach into their pocket, pull out a device, and have near-instant access to friends and customers via voice and chat, as well as the ability to surf the Internet.

The mobile industry, ultimately, wants to head down this path and provide customers with advanced unified communications. The only challenge now is to navigate it.

— John Blau, Research Analyst, Unstrung Insider


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.

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