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Mobile VoIP Trends and the Battle for Market Dominance

 
February 26, 2013


By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
 

Mobility may now be considered a way of life. Consumers no longer just pine for the latest connectivity – they have it. The newest capability to take hold in this growing industry is mobile VoIP and while it’s still new, it’s expected to significantly change what it means to be mobile.

 A Few Predictions

A recent Biz Community article shared a few predictions related to mobility and what it will look like in 2013. Thanks to RingCentral (News - Alert), we’re likely to see greater mobile integration, as well as the combination of texting and IM. The company was the first major VoIP player to introduce business SMS, although small VOIPDITO truly beat them to it. Such innovations suggest that more mobile features are set to come to the VoIP desktop in the near future.

VoIP providers are also integrating Facebook (News - Alert) into the desktop client. The social media giant has recognized the potential and is now offering its own mobile VoIP client for iOS. This move is just another indication of the role smartphones and tablets play in the overall mobile market, and the need for mobile VoIP providers to leverage strong partnerships with device providers.

As capabilities continue to increase, expect to see more companies offering mobile VoIP services. (After all, this is a $15 billion industry, according to Forbes Magazine.) While it may muddy the waters for consumers trying to select the best provider, it will keep prices low and feature sets rich. For instance, fax-centric capabilities are sure to gain traction as this still-needed technology must adapt to the mobile culture.

The Latest Advancements

The advancements in the mobile VoIP space are interesting to watch as just a few short years ago, mobile carriers completely shunned the use of this technology on their mobile networks. VoIP was considered a threat to the wireless business model, eliminating the need to use voice minutes when the call can be completed via the data network. The introduction and rapid adoption of the smartphone changed this dynamic and opened up a whole new area of opportunity for VoIP providers and consumer alike.

This Digital Journal piece highlighted how the smartphone and its capabilities expanded the use of VoIP. Instant access to 3G or Wi-Fi networks allowed consumers to leverage mobile VoIP on their smartphones and reduce their reliance on the voice network. As this trend emerged, wireless carriers had to shift the business model to respond to consumer demand while also preserving revenue potential. And according to IT Web, they’re also trying to make the use of mobile VoIP difficult.

Carriers Revolt

 The publication reports that mobile carriers are shaping data traffic and charging premium data rates for mobile VoIP to try and discourage use. Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx even suggests that while carriers are being vague about their strategies, they are in fact in the early stages of rolling out premium rates for VoIP.

Such strategies have the potential for failure as consumer trends show that the reliance on the major network is waning. With access to services like VoipClub with low rates to any location throughout the world, consumers have a choice. The development of an app that works with popular smartphone operating systems is enough to shake the hold of the standard calling contract.

Will this change the landscape of mobility in the coming years or do the major wireless carriers have enough pull to dictate the industry? This will be one battle worth watching.


Edited by Brooke Neuman

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