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December 14, 2012
Mobile VoIP Set To Reach One Billion Subscribers By 2017, Implications for the Infrastructure
By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer
A new report from Juniper Research (News - Alert) suggests that it's not going to be too much longer before the world sees a major sea change in the way that voice traffic on mobile devices is carried. Based on the Juniper Research report, fully one billion subscribers will have access to mobile VoIP by 2017, which will mean plenty of changes not only in the way voice traffic is carried, but in the way the infrastructure is set up to provide it.
Juniper Research's report illustrates the arrival of what's being called a "second wind" to the mobile VoIP market, as better mobile data technology like 4G allows users access to VoIP channels like Skype (News - Alert) and several others in the field. But the "second wind" for VoIP is also yielding major changes for networks as well. The loss of voice traffic would be a substantial loss for most mobile service providers, and as users get access to progressively better connectivity sources, it's opening up the field for free services--again, like Skype, who doesn't charge between Skype users but offers paid service for those making calls to land-lines without Skype--to step in and take advantage of that new market.
This move raises significant issues for service providers, with reports indicating that several major service providers don't have a revenue model of any sort for mobile VoIP. While this is changing, and the mobile VoIP players in the field are actively developing ways to better monetize their services, there is still a notable lag that will need to be surmounted to keep the players in the field. As access capability improves, so too will customer desires to save money, which will have them turn to non-paying providers. But with advertising and premium services both available and increasingly coming into play, it's a safe bet that the money lag will be made up, and quickly.
Another significant change comes in the form of infrastructure. With enterprise and carrier networks looking to move from voice traffic to VoIP, and mobile VoIP in particular, it's going to change the way networks are established and operated. Patton (News - Alert), especially its Smartnode line, looks to be a player of note in the upgrading infrastructures to VoIP, helping make the prediction above a reality.
It shouldn't surprise anyone in the tech sector that changes are afoot. As technology improves and the uses for it become more developed, there's always something changing. While there are clear losers and winners afoot as well, it's also worth pointing out that those who believe they are behind the curve still have plenty of room and opportunity to change that status with a few moves in advance. But will the mobile providers, and the infrastructure providers back up the mobile providers, be ready for the changes? Only time will tell just who comes out of the move to mobile VoIP in one piece, and how well it is integrated in providing customers end-to-end quality experiences.
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Edited by Peter Bernstein
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