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  1. DHart's Avatar
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    Picked up this interesting news release this morning. Very interesting. The bolding and underlining in the article are mine. VOIP thru WiFi is definitely a threat to the business model that is currently being used by the wireless carriers, but it is not ripe yet. The wireless carriers can see it on the horizon. As VOIP matures into a usable and reliable product by consumers and business people, it will become more expensive, but it will (I think) drive down the cost of wireless communications. My .02.

    VoIP could threaten mobile operators' fixed-mobile strategies

    Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) can be carried by a number of wireless technologies, enabling fixed operators, MVNOs and VoIP service providers to bypass existing cellular voice services according to a new report from Analysys.

    With VoIP already having an impact on fixed networks, its use over wireless technologies such as 3G, WLAN, Bluetooth and broadband wireless access (BWA) could enable new players to enter the mobile voice market, so threatening the voice revenues of existing mobile network operators.

    "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 fixed-mobile 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."
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