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VoIP Switch - Lower-Cost, Free Calls via Messaging App Could Impact Market

September 18, 2014


There is a continuing trend of seeing free or lower-cost Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls. One recent example is how Google Hangouts becomes another messaging app to provide free mobile voice calls.

Voice calls can be made from Hangouts on Android (News - Alert) and iOS operating systems, and through the Web, according to My Broadband. Even without Google (News - Alert) Voice, Google is providing free VoIP calls to all phones in the United States and Canada, according to TechCrunch. Calls from one Hangouts user to another are free as well, and Google will lower the costs of international calls from Google Voice.

On a similar front, it was reported by Technology Tell how Facebook’s (News - Alert) WhatsApp will soon provide free voice calling. A hint is found on a message from WhatsApp for iOS. “WhatsApp requires microphone access to send voice messages, record videos with sound, make and receive voice calls,” according to the message.

How will new free or low-cost VoIP voice options on messaging platforms impact local cellular operators?

So far, over-the-top (OTT) voice services provided by Skype (News - Alert) and others, according to Vodacom’s Richard Boorman, have not caused much of an impact. He told My Broadband, “We’re not expecting any immediate impact from the new services but we’ll be keeping an eye on developments.” Some issues the new services highlight include use of spectrum by unlicensed entities, impact on tax revenue and employment, Boorman adds.

In addition, Cell C CEO Jose dos Santos said cell operators should work with mobile messaging services and OTT companies, My Broadband said. And Mike Fairon, MTN (News - Alert) South Africa’s general manager for products and solutions, said his company welcomes the competition. “MTN has observed that WhatsApp is more popular than any of the other OTT messaging players, which leads us to believe that its impact is significant,” Fairon was quoted in My Broadband.

“MTN doesn’t underestimate the impact of OTT players and continues to look for partnership models that work for both. We always strive to satisfy our consumers’ needs and requirements,” he added.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

VoIP Switch - VoIP Comes of Age in the Enterprise

Traditional phone lines might have their place in a highly connected society, but the truth of the matter is, to stay afloat in a competitive business landscape, one needs a bit more than a plain old telephone system (POTS).

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