Mobile VoIP set to replace traditional voice networks

Mobile VoIP to pose a huge and direct challenge to the $692.6 billion global mobile voice market

By the next ten years, more than half of mobile voice traffic will be carried on end-to-end voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) networks instead of traditional mobile networks according to a recent survey by Gartner.

The analysis firm predicts that mobile portal VoIP offered by third-party application-based providers will poses a huge and direct challenge to the $692.6 billion global mobile voice market. It believes that over time, traditional network-based mobile carriers face the real prospect of losing a major slice of their voice traffic and revenue to new non-infrastructure players that use VoIP.

However, Gartner adds that despite what it calls a significant potential, conditions for the rapid expansion in the use of mobile VoIP are not yet right and are not likely to become right for at least five years and perhaps as long as eight years.

One of the key drivers for the mobile VoIP adoption identified by Gartner is the advent of 4G networks such as WiMAX and Long Term Evolution (LTE), and increased use of smartphones with open operating systems. If these networks truly realise their potential, Gartner postulates that it is conceivable that wireless voice services will be run completely over VoIP.

However Gartner warned that there will also be a number of factors that will inhibit the adoption of third-party, end-to-end VoIP services. These include the delay in rolling out 4G networks because of current economic conditions and also the general plan to put 4G only in the main cities and build out from there. Nevertheless, Gartner expects that in five to 10 years time, as 4G networks become common, mobile VoIP services will have a strong impact on the communications market.

Commented Gartner research director Tole Hart, “Mass-scale adoption of end-to-end mobile VoIP calling will not happen until fourth-generation (4G) networks are fully implemented in 2017. Once the basic market conditions are in place, transition to mobile portal VoIP should be fairly rapid because of the inherent convenience and end-user cost savings. In 10 years time we expect that 30% of mobile voice traffic will be carried out through third-party mobile portals, such as Google, Facebook, MySpace and Yahoo, which will adopt wireless VoIP service as a voice option to their current communications hub.”

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