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January 10, 2005

Mobile Operators: Look out for Voice Over Wi-Fi

By Nancy Gohring

This extensive round-up of voice over Wi-Fi activity offers a great basis for considering whether voice over Wi-Fi may present a threat to the mobile players: There are plenty of voice over Wi-Fi moves happening in Europe, including an O2 trial in April in the UK, a voice over Wi-Fi enabled mobile phone to come from BT, and Wi-Fi phones from Motorola and Nokia that will support voice over Wi-Fi.

As this article aptly notes, it’s the standalone mobile operators without any landline properties that might be feeling a bit threatened by the talk of voice over Wi-Fi. But as the author also notes, voice over Wi-Fi calling in the consumer market is unlikely to steal a major amount of traffic from the mobile networks, given that Wi-Fi networks have relatively small coverage areas.

Voice over Wi-Fi in offices, however, could make a more significant dent in the revenues that mobile operators earn, because high volumes of mobile phone calls are currently made by employees to colleagues in offices. In the U.S., where many companies have made or are making the switch to voice over IP, the next transition to voice over Wi-Fi seems logical. Such voice over Wi-Fi phones in offices could steal some traffic from the mobile networks. For some operators, that may not be significant, however. Vodafone, at least around here, has an offering that allows colleagues to talk to each other for free.

Research firm In-Stat believes that wireless voice over IP offers the greater market opportunity for voice over IP. In-Stat expects revenues for voice over IP chips to grow pretty dramatically through 2008, with the main driver being combined cellular and voice over Wi-Fi handsets. In-Stat doesn’t expect such combined devices to go mainstream in any significant way until 2006, though.

Posted by nancyg at January 10, 2005 12:53 PM

Categories: voice

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