Fascinating post by Andy Abramson about various experiences with Skype over 3G running on the iPhone.
Coupled with efforts by various other VoIP players - and the evolution of assorted voice-on-LTE advocates, it certainly looks as though VoIPo3G (or VoIPo4G if you buy into the marketing guff around LTE) is becoming much more feasible and important.
I've noticed a few of my rival analyst firms putting out forecasts and comments recently, as if this was somehow new and unexpected.
Readers of this blog, and customers of Disruptive Analysis' reports will have seen this coming more than two years ago (I'm pretty sure that I coined the term VoIPo3G myself - see the Google search results here)
I published a research report at the end of 2007 which included a full analysis of what was likely to occur - as well as the probable use cases and partnerships that could/should arise. I predicted up to 255m active users of VoIPo3G by the end of 2012. Not all of these would be for "primary telephony" - the majority would be using VoIP as an adjunct to ordinary full operator voice service.
Now, some things I expected in the report haven't unfolded quite the way I expected at the time I wrote the report:
- HSUPA has been slower to be rolled out in devices than I predicted, which has limited VoIP quality
- Apple and Google have de-railed the 2007 smartphone dominance of Symbian and Microsoft, sending some of the VoIP plans to the drawing board, especially as Apple's deals with telcos prohibited VoIPo3G
- Laptop mobile broadband has grown very swiftly, often used as a direct substitute for fixed broadband, and used with various apps including VoIP
- LTE and WiMAX have rolled out more slowly, voice-over-LTE has been standardised more slowly than anticipated.
- UMB disappeared from radar
- Operators have (generally) not followed my recommendation to experiment with VoIP on HSPA/HSPA+ before committing to it with LTE. This is a strategic error in my view.
Nevertheless, the idea of partnership between operators and Internet VoIP providers has seemed prescient - especially given the Verizon/Skype and Telefonica/Jajah tie-ups. It will be interesting to hear if Andy's theory about close Apple/Skype collaboration is true - and if AT&T and other operators have some indirect involvement as well.
It's about time I did a full reassessment of the mobile VoIP space - I've been covering it since 2001 and have been pretty on-track thus far.
Watch this space.
(If any historians of telecoms strategy and forecasting would like to get the original report, let me know & I'll cut you a very good deal)
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