The Rise of Mobile VoIP: VoIP Review’s Take on the Forthcoming Mobile VoIP Popularity Surge

The Rise of Mobile VoIP: VoIP Review’s Take on the Forthcoming Mobile VoIP Popularity Surge

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The Rise of Mobile VoIP: VoIP Review’s Take on the Forthcoming Mobile VoIP Popularity Surge by UCStrategies Guest Contributor

This week, several tech publications took notice of a recent study from Juniper Research. According to Juniper Research’s press release, by 2017 there will be more than 1 billion people using mobile VoIP through free smartphone apps.

Why have tech publications been taking particular notice of this story? Because for many people in the VoIP industry, it is surprising that mobile VoIP has not become that popular already. Mobile VoIP is the best option for cheap mobile calling out there, the same way that landline VoIP is the cheapest option for any business or home. So why the consumer lag?

It seems likely that the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread mobile VoIP use is simple lack of awareness. How many average consumers know what the word “VoIP” stands for, anyway? Lots of people use VoIP in the forms of Skype and Google Talk without even realizing they are using VoIP platforms.

There has been some success in the world of mobile VoIP apps among some of these more widely-recognized names, but generally, people are using mobile VoIP apps for one of two reasons:

  • They can download it for free, as is the case with many VoIP mobile apps.

  • They get the app for no extra charge when they buy a regular landline phone service for their business or homes (8x8, Inc. and RingCentral are two such business VoIP providers that offer free mobile apps to their customers for easy smartphone integration with a hosted PBX system. There are also companies like Vocalocity that sell virtual extensions for cell phones so employees can stay connected to the company PBX through their cell phones at all times).

This is consistent with Juniper Research’s results, which suggest that even with the massive surge of people using mobile VoIP, customers will only use mobile VoIP when they feel like they are getting something for free: that is, they will only use their mobile VoIP apps to talk to other people using the same app, but they will not use their mobile VoIP provider to call another mobile or cell number, which would cost them money.

This is one of the other deterrents for widespread mobile VoIP use: getting mobile VoIP requires an extra step (actually downloading the app) and there is the perception of an extra fee (the per minute fees that providers like Skype charge when customers use their apps to call non-Skype numbers).

Of course, when people are willing to dig a little deeper and actually add up the numbers, they realize that they can actually save a lot of money by using a VoIP app for the bulk of their calling.

For example, with business VoIP provider 8x8, Inc.’s mobile VoIP app, customers just download the app from an app store, use their 8x8 login to sign-in, and they can start using their smartphone for business calling right away. This means that people can get the same unlimited calling on their cell phones that they enjoy in their businesses and homes, so customers can make calls for free with VoIP instead of eating up their cell phone minutes. Customers can also use mobile VoIP apps to avoid roaming fees while out of the country by calling through the Internet instead.

If customers are really making the most of their mobile VoIP apps, they should be able to downgrade their cell phone plans so they can save money on their cell phone bills as well as their landline bills. For example, an employee who uses their cell phone frequently while on business trips may choose Sprint’s unlimited plan for $110/month. If that employee started using a mobile VoIP app for a lot of their calling, they could downgrade their business mobile plan to Sprint’s basic metered plan with 200 minutes for $30/month.

However, customers do still have to have a mobile carrier, which is likely confusing to many customers. That is, customers cannot just get mobile VoIP for their phones. However, they could theoretically just get a data plan with no calling plan. Customers will need to be able to access the Internet through their mobile devices, but this does mean that customers can use any mobile device, and not just phones (including tablets, the iPod Touch, laptops, etc.).

Finally, the last thing standing in the way of widespread mobile VoIP is the limitations on available Internet service. As with landline VoIP, customers can only use mobile VoIP when they have access to an Internet service. However, according to Juniper Research, future improvements in 4G will obviate much of this problem. As customers have easier access to 4G networks and WiFi, mobile VoIP will be an easy option for most types of phoning.

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This Guest Post submitted by Rachel Greenberg, the site editor for VoIPReview.org, and several other major VoIP and consumer sites. She works out of the San Diego area. 

 

10 Responses to "The Rise of Mobile VoIP: VoIP Review’s Take on the Forthcoming Mobile VoIP Popularity Surge" - Add Yours

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Art Rosenberg 1/14/2013 9:05:41 AM

The easiest way for mobile consumers to exploit Mobile VoIP for business contacts will be through online apps accessible from mobile smartphones and tablets. That's where "click-to-call" options will exploit VoIP connections, rather than TDM and cellular services. It will also provide "contextual" access to the right person that is available at that moment and is qualified for what the caller is interested in.

However, you are right about the mobile carriers being in control because they are the principal suppliers of two important things to individual consumers - the mobile devices and wireless network connectivity. However, the advent of WebRTC will probably take away much of their old cellular network business.

See my post about Mobile Customer Service for business:

http://www.ucstrategies.com/unified-communications-newsroom/ai-video-conferencing-in-mobile-health-care.aspx
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Shai Berger 1/17/2013 7:16:40 AM

(Art, I think the link in your comment is wrong.)

The article misses another deterrent to VoIP adoption: The phone number.

When people dial out, whether for personal or business use, they want their own phone number to show on the other end. Similarly, people want that same phone number to be a way to reach them.

All of the VoIP options have various work-arounds for this, but none can really duplicate the rock-solid relationship we have with our phone number, when we use carrier-based calling.

This is a major asset for the carriers and seems unlikely to change. It will keep VoIP calling on the margins when it comes to typical consumer use.
Gravatar
Art Rosenberg 1/17/2013 3:49:42 PM

Thanks, Shai,

Sorry about that!

Here's the correct link:

http://www.ucstrategies.com/unified-communications-strategies-views/why-mobile-customer-service-needs-clouds-and-uc.aspx

I agree that old telephone calling and phone numbers won't go away for a long time for "person-to-person" contact initiation, but when it comes to customer-initiated contacts, I believe that mobile smartphones and tablets will exploit the web and online mobile apps to get information, perform transactions, and only then make contact with live custom service assistance via "click-to-contact" connections. That means that consumers won't be "dialing" out from a phone number or dialing to a business number as much as before.

I think what you are really saying is that people want their identity to show up for the recipient(s) to see, across any mode of contact. However, even though there will be a single connection path, people will have more than one basic persona/identity, i.e., personal, job related, associated with their communication device. Depending on which persona (like having two phone numbers on a mobile device) is used by the contact initiator, the incoming call or message can then be screened and routed properly. Having separation of identity also allows employee mobile BYOD issues to be managed managed by the user vs. their employer.

Yes, phone numbers have always been a controlled asset of the carriers, just as wired phones have been, but Mobile UC and WebRTC are going to quickly diminish that value. As more consumers replace residence phones with more personalized, individual mobile devices, they won't be relying on the old, "blind" telephone calling game that much any more.

I think the carriers have already recognized this and are moving quickly to stay in charge of subscriber use of 4G connectivity and sales of multi-modal devices, and will also try to get some of the huge mobile apps and clou
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Marshall Kincaid 1/21/2013 7:32:16 AM

In the recent past, I have seen two other research works (from Axvoice http://blog.axvoice.com/us-telecom-industry-from-2010-to-2015-a-research-by-axvoice/ and ringcentral http://blog.ringcentral.com/2012/12/sms-infographic/). To be honest, I don't trust the research work that these providers are doing right now. First of all, the circumstances are never explained, under which this research work is done. Secondly, the telecom industry is changing every day and night. It is very possible that a brand new technology wipes out all the calling systems available in the market. Apps are under evolutionary process and there will be so many changes and developments in app market itself. I don't think this research work will remain valid until then.
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dave michels 1/21/2013 9:43:18 AM

Yes, I too am a bit cynical when it comes to various market research report. They can be useful and I've come to respect some brands, but most market research is based on a rear view mirror of trends. The point that you also need to consider is that trends change very slowly - people are still buying digital phone systems and TDM trunks. I look at most reports as another data point to consider, but make my own conclusions.
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Art Rosenberg 1/23/2013 7:33:18 PM

The way I see such evolutionary change is "One foot on land and the other ion the canoe." The question is when and HOW to jump?
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CHRISTIAN ROWSELL 3/11/2013 10:21:51 AM

I just found this on the BroadConnect Blog

"BroadConnect Telecom’s call routing platform is built on the foundation of the customer’s existing VoIP infrastructure and operated using existing VoIP phones situated physically on desks, or as a softphone."

http://blog.broadconnect.ca/the-advantages-of-full-service-hosted-voip-solution-vs-sip-trunking
Gravatar
Lajos Varga 4/7/2014 8:49:34 AM

It is just about the basics of economy, what initiates my question or dilemma. VoIP solutions are to leverage using technology from real or perceived high prices of mobile calls. This is also the interest of the customer and even it helps to get more sophisticated communication tools (like click to call), etc. However in case of increasing usage of VoIP will erode the revenue stream of mobile networks, that will lead to a) prohibit VoIP in certain price plans, b) increase data prices, launch new access type flat fees to maintain the revenue/profitability, c) decrease costs, d) cut back investments to remain competitive or just survive (for a while).
The question is for me is, how efficient is an MNO, whether the VoIP has primarily positive effect to force MNOs to be more competitive or it also could lead to service degradation due to cost cuts, deferred investments? What will be the answer of VoIP solution providers for it?
I also interested in today practices of MNOs and the answers of the VoIP providers.
(In Hungary most of the mobile price plans for residential users one way or another prohibit/limit the use of VoIP.)
Gravatar
Lajos Varga 4/8/2014 4:27:05 AM

It is just about the basics of economy, what initiates my question or dilemma. VoIP solutions are to leverage using technology from real or perceived high prices of mobile calls. This is also the interest of the customer and even it helps to get more sophisticated communication tools (like click to call), etc. However in case of increasing usage of VoIP will erode the revenue stream of mobile networks, that will lead to a) prohibit VoIP in certain price plans, b) increase data prices, launch new access type flat fees to maintain the revenue/profitability, c) decrease costs, d) cut back investments to remain competitive or just survive (for a while).
The question is for me is, how efficient is an MNO, whether the VoIP has primarily positive effect to force MNOs to be more competitive or it also could lead to service degradation due to cost cuts, deferred investments? What will be the answer of VoIP solution providers for it?
I also interested in today practices of MNOs and the answers of the VoIP providers.
(In Hungary most of the mobile price plans for residential users one way or another prohibit/limit the use of VoIP.)
Gravatar
Lajos Varga 4/14/2014 11:09:45 AM

It is just about the basics of economy, what initiates my question or dilemma. VoIP solutions are to leverage using technology from real or perceived high prices of mobile calls. This is also the interest of the customer and even it helps to get more sophisticated communication tools (like click to call), etc. However in case of increasing usage of VoIP will erode the revenue stream of mobile networks, that will lead to a) prohibit VoIP in certain price plans, b) increase data prices, launch new access type flat fees to maintain the revenue/profitability, c) decrease costs, d) cut back investments to remain competitive or just survive (for a while).
The question is for me is, how efficient is an MNO, whether the VoIP has primarily positive effect to force MNOs to be more competitive or it also could lead to service degradation due to cost cuts, deferred investments? What will be the answer of VoIP solution providers for it?
I also interested in today practices of MNOs and the answers of the VoIP providers.
(In Hungary most of the mobile price plans for residential users one way or another prohibit/limit the use of VoIP.)

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