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Summary:

Juniper Research says that the total number of mobile VoIP minutes will jump from 15 billion minutes in 2010 to 470.6 billion minutes by 2015. US is going to account for 135 billion mobile VoIP minutes by 2015. Now good news for mobile VoIP startups.

If you are Nimbuzz, Truphone, Skype or one of the many other Mobile VoIP companies, here is some good news: A UK-based research group says the total number of mobile VoIP minutes will jump from 15 billion in 2010 to 470.6 billion by 2015, thanks to the proliferation of 3G and 4G networks. Juniper Research says the biggest boost will come from the U.S., which will account for 135 billion mobile VoIP minutes by 2015. Juniper recently forecasted that there will be 100 million mobile VoIP users by 2012.

“There are several flavours of mobile VoIP,” says Anthony Cox, Senior Analyst at Juniper Research, noting that operators fear losing traffic to Wi-Fi networks most: “Wi-Fi mobile VoIP is potentially the most damaging of all VoIP traffic, as it bypasses the mobile networks altogether,” he says. “We forecast that mobile VoIP over Wi-Fi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015.”

While the traffic minutes are going to grow, it is still difficult to see how much money these mobile upstarts will be able to make. In my opinion, the likely winner of the mobile VoIP sweepstakes is going to be Skype, mostly because it has the biggest network, which allows the service to offer easy in-network calling. As for the rest of them, well, maybe the carriers who hate them so much will end up buying them.

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  1. What’s to buy? The technology has no value and is simply a commodity that be be bought in for a few hundred thousand dollars. There is no customer loyalty in cheap-minutes. All an encumbent would be buying is customer churn and a loss making business.

    Far more likely is they’ll embrace the technology and parter with the on-net providers like Skype and Apple.

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  2. What thing that’s been bothering me lately is the arbitrary division of voice, text, and data. Based on a all digital network and a per byte cost, consumers pay a huge premium for voice and text over data. It’s not a reach to believe a company like Skype could come out with a phone, or an app for that matter, that would have all the functionality of any smartphone yet rely solely on WiFi and a carrier’s data service for connectivity.

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    1. Hi Ray,

      Tobias from Nimbuzz here. Our mobile app already supports VoIP, messaging, and presence. It is available for free and unifies your communication options and IM, as well as social networks in one place.

      Instead of using carrier minutes, everything is IP based so you just pay for your unlimited data plan or use Wifi.

      There is lots we still need to improve, but we are getting there : )

      Would love to get your feedback.

      Cheers,

      Tobias

      tobias (at) nimbuzz (dot) com

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  3. I don’t understand this statement FTA:

    “We forecast that mobile VoIP over Wi-Fi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015″

    Mobile VoIP over WiFi doesn’t cost operators anything since it uses WiFi, not 3G. They are loosing the potential profit from a call that otherwise would have been a PSTN call but that would have also been the case over 3G data as well. That is unless this statement assumes all carriers will begin tiered 3G data plans on which VoIP calls over 3G would be profitable.

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  4. What FTA means is that Wi-FI will cost the operators money which would otherwise have been spent on networks…I think

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    1. The loss of “minutes” in this scenario doesn’t necessarily indicate a loss of revenue. In fact, with more all-you-can-eat mobile plans proliferating the market a mobile minute that does not have to be terminated by the mobile carrier is money not spent; hence money saved.
      The mobile market is already making a major shift to unlimited data plans (as Tobias stated) to support the various social networking sites, IM, VoIP and other applications. If a mobile carrier wishes to remain relevant, they will embrace the shift in how their services are being used and push forward the opportunities for new ideas to leverage the network.

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  5. I am not sure that I agree with the statement:

    “Wi-Fi mobile VoIP is potentially the most damaging of all VoIP traffic, as it bypasses the mobile networks altogether, we forecast that mobile VoIP over Wi-Fi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015.”

    I make extensive use of mobile VoIP – and in virtually all scenarios it is in a mode where I normally would NOT be using conventional GSM/UMTS services.

    Take my operation at home as an example: I am lucky enough to live in a 350 year old house in one of the most beautiful parts of rural England. However, GSM coverage ceases 5 miles down the road, so when at home I route all of my inbound and outbound mobile calls over WiFi.

    There is no way that my use of mobile VoIP damages any of the mobile operators in any way – in fact, it allows me to MAKE calls to those networks that I would not otherwise be making, thus INCREASING their revenue.

    VoIP over WiFi is a COMPLEMENTARY technology – not a threat!

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  6. I don’t see anything wrong with offering alternative means of making calls or sending SMS. Hopefully this will encourage the phone operators to be more competitive on their tariffs, which can only be a good thing for customers.

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  7. A multiple of 30 in 5 years, hmmmm, I think someone in Jupiter might have some sort of weird calculator.
    The company’s that you mention have one huge issue with vacuuming up all this revenue.
    Payments
    Even Facebook and Skype had to go prepaid
    90% of long distance minutes are non nationals calling home, their access to credit cards for online transactions is a huge issue and will insure that for many years to come IDT and others will be moving their prepaid scratch card minutes over VOIP

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  8. Skype has been trying to close off to prepare for their IPO, which makes sense for them I suppose. In a few years when mobile voice over IP communications is more widespread however, I would expect that most people would simply use standards based mobile VoIP applications since they are VoIP provider ‘agnostic’. This gives consumers and businesses the freedom that they don’t currently have (they actually do, but most people simply don’t know about it).

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  9. I would never use Skype, simply because they use your computer/cellphone to make calls for other users even when you are not making calls, but simply having their application turned on. In other words, they are using your cpu power for free yet charge you monthly fees to make the calls, yet most people are not aware of it! Not only are they overworking your cellphone or computer when you are least aware of the background application running, but they are charging you for using your resources. Remember they are the peer-peer creators of Kazaa.
    By having Skype running in the background, you will waste your battery and shorten its life and the cellphone itself too, for running continuously. Remember your cellphone does not have any fans to cool the cpu for running continuously like a laptop for instance. That could also cause it to freeze more often!

    I would not mind finding another solution to Skype and even pay a little extra but must be less than current carriers’ ridiculous high rates.

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