“For mobile operators that have invested heavily in 2G and 3G cellular networks there will be little incentive to offer VoIP services,” says Dr Mark Heath, co-author of the report. “Their existing networks already deliver better-quality voice services at lower cost than VoIP can achieve today. However, VoIP may look more attractive to those seeking to bypass mobile operators’ voice tariffs, particularly if an opportunity to undercut those tariffs using VoIP arises due to significant falls in 3G data pricing. A number of mobile operators have launched unlimited-use data tariffs that could make them vulnerable to customers using VoIP to cut
their spend,” says Heath.
The report also reviews the use of wireless VoIP by fixed operators trying to defend against fixedmobile substitution by developing services that combine VoIP over Bluetooth or WLAN, in the home or workplace, with cellular voice elsewhere. “Bluetooth solutions have limited range and are likely to be phased out quickly in favour of WLAN, as issues with handset
power consumptions are resolved,” says report co-author Dr Alastair Brydon.
For operators considering deployment of broadband wireless Access technologies (e.g. Flarion’s Flash-OFDM, IPWireless’s W-CDMA TDD or later WiMAX), being able to offer VoIP would strengthen the business case for investing in such networks by moving them beyond a focus on low-margin Internet access. “Flarion and IPWireless will be first to support BWA VoIP services,” says Brydon, “but they may have limited opportunities to achieve economies of scale and interworking of handsets. WiMAX may be a more attractive option if network features and terminals are available to support VoIP when it comes to fruition.”
Wireless Voice Over IP: technical and commercial prospects identifies the opportunities for VoIP services across a range of wireless technologies, and assesses their commercial feasibility and prospects. The report details examples of important wireless VoIP developments and services.
- VoIP can be carried by a variety of wireless technologies that support data services, including 3G, WLAN, Bluetooth, proprietary BWA and WiMAX
- 3G mobile operators have little incentive to offer VoIP services as W-CDMA offers the cost and capacity attributes to support fixedmobile substitution
- Wireless VoIP presents fixed operators, MVNOs and VoIP providers with opportunities to disrupt the mobile voice market
- Mobile operators that offer unlimited-use data tariffs are vulnerable to third-party VoIP services carried via 3G data
- VoIP carried on Bluetooth or WLAN could help fixed operators reverse fixedmobile substitution trends
- VoIP could be used to strengthen the business case for BWA Technologies such as WiMAX
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