VOIP services

TEF's VoIP Revolution

8:00 AM -- Seven months after acquiring VoIP service and applications specialist Jajah, Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) has launched its first mobile VoIP service, O2 Global Friends, in Germany. (See TEF Launches Jajah VoIP Services and Telefónica Buys VoIP Player Jajah.)

While other mobile operators are still deciding how to deal with the thorny issue of packetized voice, the Spanish giant has taken the bull by the horns (so to speak) and decided that if its legacy voice service is going to be supplanted by packet voice, it might as well do it itself, rather than watch its customers use an over-the-top (OTT) service such as Skype Ltd. . (See Mobile VoIP's an 'Unstoppable Train' and VoIP Still Threatens Legacy Carriers.)

Starting in Germany, Telefónica Europe's O2 operators (which collectively boast 54 million customers) will use Jajah to offer IP-based international voice services whereby its customers need only call a local number to place a low-cost international call to certain pre-selected numbers.

The service will be launched in other European markets in the coming months.

Some might say Telefónica is moving too early, and doesn't need to cannibalize its legacy voice revenues this quickly. But that's quite a short-sighted view. By having its own service and owning the applications development process, Telefónica is in a great position to develop value-added services by itself and partner with third-party developers to (potentially) create a rich apps environment that, along with being able to offer low-cost overseas calls (always an attraction), could be its market differentiator.

Of course, that's much easier said than done, but Telefónica is at least in control of what's happening in terms of the packet-based services on its network, and that's a far better strategy than trying to fight against, or even ignore, the wave of OTT services heading mobile's way.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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