Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mobile VoIP, will it be disruptive?

We are back at it again, Mobile VoIP and how it’s going mainstream. According to unstrung’s new report called “Mobile VoIP: A Disruptive Service Goes Mainstream” , Mobile VoIP is no longer a cheap telephony call, its all about building communities and enabling voice based mashups using IP as transport. I have argued earlier on who will win the race, Operator or Mobile VoIP Application startups . Mobile VoIP uses wireless broadband network as a transport media for Voice Traffic between mobile devices. (Check out my earlier article on how Mobile VoIP works )Currently, most of the operators use Circuit Switched network as transport for voice traffic. This is however changing with the unveiling of IMS, LTE, and WIMAX etc. These technologies enable an all IP wireless network. It’s going to be a long way before we can actually see a fully functional all IP wireless network. All that said, from a consumer standpoint, all he cares about is quality of service and rich features. I don’t think consumers care about how the voice traffic is transported.

There are many startups that have developed compelling mobile applications that use mobile IP technology for voice and rich media communication. Many operators (AT&T, TMobile etc) have restricted applications like Skype, Truphone, Fring, Mig33, Nimbuzz etc from using their IP network for voice communication. From an operator standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to kill circuit-switched cash cow by allowing Mobile VoIP. Iam sure, eventually when all operators move to an all IP network, these applications will be given a free ride. These mobile applications demonstrate innovative features and have the potential to become killer app for the future all IP network. The business model for most of the apps would be to partner with operator or get bought by a handset vendor

Here are some key findings of the report:
• Many mobile VoIP players are broadening into other applications, integrating with other systems, and stimulating further adoption.
• New services such as voice-enhanced IM, voice mashups, and voice plugins are being used to build communities.
• Operator resistance to mobile VoIP is gradually softening worldwide, as major incumbents such as T-Mobile drop their bans.
• New Flash technology enabling peer-to-peer voice capability without requiring plugins or soft clients could be a game-changer.
• Venture capitalists remain interested in disruptive mobile VoIP technology, which they view as still in its early days of development.
• Security is an ever-present issue in wireless markets, but the WPA2 standard provides robust security.

Companies analyzed in the report include, Fringland, Hutchsion 3G UK, iSkoot inc, Jajah inc, Mobilkom, Nokia,Skype TringMe, Truphone, Vyke etc

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