Disruptive Analysis’ new report, “Evolution of Mobile
VoIP: VoIPo3G Business
Models” is the most comprehensive analysis available of the future shift
of cellular voice services from traditional circuit-based telephony to VoIP.
The convergence of mobile and IP is inevitable. Future
3.5G and 4G networks are moving towards all-IP. Handsets are being equipped
with smarter operating systems and full IP communications capabilities.
Mobile applications and core networks are being delivered by IMS, NGNs, Web
Services and The Internet.
Yet many operators, suppliers and observers are quiet on
what this means for full mobile voice and the evolution of person-to-person
wireless telephony. While plenty of attention is paid to localised VoIP
functions and FMC with VoWLAN, much less focus has been placed on the
possibility of true, end-to-end VoIPo3G - and the opportunities for both
traditional carriers and newer independent 'over the top' service providers.
This pioneering study provides detailed and
thought-provoking argument, together with thorough and methodical quantitative forecasts of the future of
mobile packet voice. It assesses both operator and "challenger"
business cases. It considers the full value chain from spectrum policy to
handsets, discussing motivations for deploying both conventional telephony
and 'non-telephony VoIP' over 3G networks. It looks at technical, commercial
and user behaviour dynamics that could accelerate or impede growth.
The report identifies gaps in standards for VoIPo3G, and
assesses the possibilities for partnership between incumbents and new
entrants. It looks at the competitive implications of a multi-year 'window
of opportunity' once 3G networks become voice-capable - but before
they are fully voice-optimised.
The forecast section is based on a structured methodology
and clearly-stated assumptions, and segments the market according to:
- Network technology (HSPA, LTE, EVDO, UMB)
- Device type (smartphone, featurephone, laptop)
- Usage scenario (3rd-party, partner-based, operator primary-line VoIP,
other standards-based services such as PTT)
- Comparison of VoIPo3G vs. VoWLAN
- Geographic analysis
The report is 210 pages long, and is based on a massive
research effort spanning 100's of briefings, meeting and interviews, among a
of operators, network infrastructure suppliers, startup
VoIP providers, regulators, industry bodies, handsets vendors and software
specialists. It includes detailed discussion of market
drivers, technology enablers, business models and the roles of key companies & organisations.
The report has been researched & written personally by
Dean Bubley, founder of Disruptive Analysis, author of the Disruptive
Wireless blog, and a recognised global authority on FMC, wireless VoIP and
- The use of
VoIP over 3G networks is inevitable in the medium term, as cellular
operators move towards future all-IP systems like LTE & UMB.
- There are
multiple scenarios for interim short-term deployment of VoIPo3G before
that point, both for operators and independent VoIP specialists.
will deploy VoIP to improve voice capacity, gain synergies from FMC
networks and counter competition from WiMAX or other VoIP providers.
will be more important than VoWLAN, for operators and 3rd
Analysis forecasts 255m active VoIPo3G users by the end of 2012, with the
figure dominated by mobile operators’ own 3.5G+ voice services.
this growth, penetration will still be below 10% of total global mobile
subscribers, and around 20% of all 3G+ users, by 2012.
- Even where
VoIPo3G is deployed, circuit voice will still endure for years. Few users
will see all their voice traffic transfer to IP; handovers will be
operators face fewer threats from independent VoIPo3G than their HSPA
carrier peers. Carrier VoIP is designed-in from EVDO Rev A onwards.
- Most 3GPP /
UMTS operators will need to wait until at least 2011-12 before starting
broad migration of circuit telephony to standardised VoIP. In the interim
they will have to compete or partner with pre-standard VoIP players.
expecting to deploy LTE networks need to consider gaining prior experience
of mobile VoIP. Simultaneously rolling out a new radio technology and a
new voice architecture is a huge risk.
- The key
catalysts for independent VoIPo3G are the increasing penetration of
smartphones, coupled with the growing availability of flatrate 3G data
3G-connected laptops are an important VoIPo3G constituency, as operators’
rival services to home fixed broadband will generally need to support
users’ expected applications - including VoIP - to be competitive.
- In the
medium term, operators will drop VoIP-hostile 3G terms-of-service, on the
grounds of competition, regulation and difficulty of enforcement.
- Too much
emphasis is placed by 3GPP on unproven ‘multimedia’ telephony concepts
rather than ‘plain’ VoIPo3G.
- It will be
more important to embed mobile VoIP into new devices, services or web
applications (Voice 2.0) than adding video or other media streams.
- There is
scope for partnership between VoIPo3G innovators and incumbent operators
(and other parties), especially on HSPA networks. Initial reticence will
be countered by awareness of the threats of outright competition.
have sizeable opportunities for standards-based, non-telephony VoIPo3G
applications like push-to-talk and person-to-server communications.
many software and infrastructure vendors are focused on VoWLAN, an
increasing proportion are devoting resources to VoIPo3G, although
awareness remains weak in sectors like enterprise mobility.
indoor coverage of 3G through femtocells may catalyse VoIPo3G.
Operator-based VoIPo3G can fit better with prepaid tariffs than VoWLAN.
- HSPA+ will
be a major VoIP platform, especially for operators without sufficient
spectrum allocations to roll out LTE.
Published November 2007
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