Significant mobile-VoIP growth predicted

One researcher says VoIP over WiFi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015.

Reports recently issued by two market-research organizations both predict that the use of wireless application mobile Voice over Internet Protocol (mobile VoIP) will climb through the year 2015. One of the researchers, In-Stat, explains, "Mobile VoIP is an extension of VoIP that allows for IP-based calls to be made from a mobile handset. Voice traffic travels over the available broadband connection, whether that connection is 3G, EDGE, WiFi or GRPS. Like fixed VoIP, mobile VoIP is being adopted in both the consumer and business segments, but has only recently begun to be implemented in the business environment."

In-Stat focuses on business use of mobile VoIP in its research report entitled The Business of Mobile VoIP: Voice Communications in the Enterprise. Within the report it indicates that growth rates are strong and by the end of the forecast period in 2015, users will have grown to nearly 83 million lines or seats.

In-Stat senior analyst Amy Cravens says, "There are several reasons that adoption of mobile VoIP makes sense. Some of these include the ability to take the desktop phone experience with you, the ability to utilize the benefits of IP-based communication features, a cheaper international long-distance cost, an easy implementation path, and better indoor coverage where cell-phone reception has historically been poor."

In-Stat's research into the business mobile-VoIP market turned up the following points.

  • Business mobiel VoIP users will increase tenfold over the next five years.
  • IP-PBX users will account for the majority of business mobile VoIP use.
  • Mobile operators are increasingly embracing mobile VoIP as they realize that demand for these offerings is not subsiding.
  • Hotspots open the potential for using VoIP over WiFi as more of a mobile service rather than a residential or business service.

Juniper Research also recently examined mobile VoIP, from the standpoint of the opportunities and challenges it presents to mobile carriers. In its report entitled Mobile Voice Stategies - mVoIP Opportunities and Business Models, 2010-2015, the researcher found that the number of mobile VoIP minutes carried annually on 3G and 4G networks will rise from 15 billion minutes in 2010 to 470.6 billion by 2015. Juniper says that mobile VoIP traffic will rise steadily in all regions for the 2010-2015 forecast period but particularly in developed markets due to the increasing availability of 3G networks.

Senior analyst Anthony Cox says, "There are several flavors of mobile VoIP. WiFi mobile VoIP Is potentially the most damaging of all VoIP traffic as it bypasses the mobile networks altogether. We forecast that mobile VoIP over WiFi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015."

According to Juniper, other options for mobile VoIP carriage are via carrier alliances with mobile VoIP providers, or through an app downloaded to a handset or smartphone. Other findings of Juniper's research include the following.

  • Competitive and regulatory pressure will mean that traditional operators in developed markets will increasingly "bury the hatchet" and forge partnerships with VoIP providers.
  • Operator revenues from circuit-switched voice will continue to diminish over the five-year period, although the rate of decline will not accelerate.
  • The market opportunity for high-definition voice and advertising-based mobile voice services will be limited for the foreseeable future.

The researcher points out that operator sentiment over mobile VoIP varies. Cox notes, "Even though a major operator, 3UK, touts the benefits of mobile VoIP, it will take some time for many operators, particularly in emerging markets, to accept it, since it represents loss of control over their own networks."

Watch a video of Juniper Research's Anthony Cox discussing the mobile VoIP market.

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