Is Mobile VoIP Taking Over?

Carl Weinschenk

There is a tension about how to look at the future. On one hand, observers should be careful not to jump too quickly: Television didn't kill radio, videocassette recorders didn't empty the movie theatres. On the other hand, those too wedded to the past might miss things that others see, and pay the price.

The next version of this drama will be voice. The question is whether mobile phone services based on traditional cellular networks have embarked on a deep downward spiral. The Inquirer cited work by Bennelong SGI portfolio manager Scott Klimo to suggest that Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks will produce sufficient bandwidth to support voice communications on data networks. Thus, VoIP will be in position to replace traditional cellular approaches.

That would be a dramatic turn and, indeed, it is a pertinent question even in the age of 3G. More and more, mobile traffic is moving to the Internet, which is less expensive for service providers and, therefore, for their subscribers.


A lot of people already are using VoIP on their mobile devices. This week, Cloud Net -- in England and Wales -- said that it is offering a business-oriented VoIP PBX for Apple mobile devices. VoIP blogger Andrew Wiggin suggests that the motivation for mobile VoIP is different for businesses than in residential implementations. For business, he writes, the prime driver is not saving money, though that is nice, but simplicity for users. Google is experimenting with adding voice to Gmail, and there are indications that a commercial product may eventually have a mobile element as well.

Indeed, mobile VoIP is common-and is expected to grow. AT&T is pushing it beyond smartphones to <strong>feature phones</strong>, for instance. GigaOm's coverage of TringMe, a VoIP application for BlackBerry-the first true VoIP client for the device, according to Om Malik-quotes some impressive numbers. He says that almost 100 million mobile VoIP users are expected by 2012 and more than 471 billion calls by 2015. With numbers like that, the question becomes who will be left to use traditional platforms.

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