Friday, February 1, 2008

To make money from mobile VoIP, companies have to accept certain realities

Jon Arnold has updated his very interesting portal website IP Convergence TV. This time I also wrote a guest opinion, because to make money from mobile VoIP companies have to accept certain realities: "WiFi isn't everywhere and callback costs double".

I love the mobile use of VoIP but I still find it quite uncomfortable. That's what I point out. Especially annoying is how Skype, Fring, Truphone and other SIP based VoIP services get blocked by German 3G providers. Sorry, Dean Bubley from Disruptive Analysys! The reality looks much darker for VoIPo3G than you predict for the future. (But thanks for your regular Google ads "3G mobile Voice over IP. Analyst report: is it a threat to carriers? Or a future opportunity?". I better put a direct link to your website.)

Mobile VoIP over Wifi works only at home or in the office where I don't need it. So in my guest opinion I advocate intelligent cell phone software which automatically completes calls as callback, callthrough, Vo3G or VoWifi while the user doesn't even notice. I have already installed an example software on a Nokia E61.

Maybe if more and more people use these options, Dean's dream will come true. If everyone uses only mobile callthrough, triggered by intelligent software on the handset, the mobile network operators cannot charge any other items than the tariff's included minutes for local calls. Their voice legacy cell phone networks would become dumb pipes into the internet, the way we already see it with the 3Skypephone or iSkoot, Ringfree, Mobivox, Jajah Direct, Sipbroker, Tpad, Rebtel, Mobiletalk, etc. If mobile operators wanted to charge for international calls at all, they would have to embrace VoIPo3G and could at least charge for data, the way Dean predicts it.

But until this comes true, the mobile VoIP companies should attack the incumbents with better callthrough options, to take more and more cell phone calls out of the traditional networks and into IP. Read the full text for further explanations!


  1. Have a look at packet8 mobile talk. Simple and efficient for overseas calls. Main drawbacks: works only in the US so far, not cost efficeint for non international calls (vs. fring on EDGE - amazing call quality on such a low bandwidth)

  2. how does calltrough bypass the operators call charges. the only reason i use VOIP is to save money; i want break below the lowest cost of a call through my operator. granted the conditions are not always perfect but fring and truphone can often get me below that. german cell phone provider all offer very cheap plans with unlimited calls to landline; that makes callthrough perfect for you; but these sort of plans are not available everyplace.

  3. You want to break below the lowest cost of a call through your operator?

    In Germany there was nothing cheaper than the December Base-2-Flatrate from Sparhandy for €8.88. Unfortunately it was limited to 888 SIM cards and now it costs €9.99 for unlimited calls to German landlines and the e-Plus mobile phone network. This is the perfect gateway callthrough tinkerers.

    Use Betamax for call-out and the world is yours for €9.99! That's better than Truphone or Fring, because it works wherever you are in Germany.

    P. D.: I already reviewed Packe8 Mobile Talk here and the backend technology from Mobilemax here.

  4. Hi Markus

    Thanks for the link.

    It's worth mentioning that much of my VoIPo3G analysis is predicated on the operators using their own VoIP over HSPA, EVDO or LTE - rather than "pure" over-the-top VoIP using Skype etc. I also think there will be an increasing number of partnerships.

    It's also worth highlighting a new (operator-specific) development in 3GPP R8, which is essentially "circuit switched telephony over IP" using HSPA radio bearers. I've just done another blog post on it. It's not mobile VoIP from an application point of view, but it is at the transport layer.



  5. Dean,

    you comments are a perfect example of why it is time to start differentiating between flavors of VOIP. i am a fan of 'toll bypass' or 'over the top' VOIP solutions that save consumers money by cutting out the middle man. this is also the overwhelming driving force behind the popularity of the current crop of service. from a consumer perspective you have discounted calling cards or SIP solutions. all of this is a whole separate thing from services like vonage that try to duplicate traditional phone service along with all the fees; likewise from a consumer perspective i could care less whether a mobile operator is using circuit switched or VOIP for transport of my phone calls.

    i am a big fan of the services that help me avoid the fees charged by the big telecos; not necessarily of the technology behind it.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.