Friday, September 22, 2006

Do you VoIP?

It's already becoming something even 'old' to talk about it, but VoIP is involving some remarkable changes in communications. Using programmes such as Skype, users are getting used to make phone calls for free. VoIP is one of the causes that fixed telephone call rates are decreasing even to very low limits, so they're now focusing on broadband services like ADSL. But how much traffic do operators lose due to these new VoIP applications? Or maybe there's more traffic because they're for free... We have to say that VoIP is especially helpful for long distance calls.

Then we get to the point of measuring the value of money and how much are users ready to pay for telecom services, or better: how much are they used to pay? For instance, we're 'used' to have email for free since it was born, and that's one of the reasons for its success. But for example SMS are not for free... So telecoms are facing the fight for revenue. If users are generating a monthly ARPU, what can you offer them so they become convinced that they can pay more for high value added services? Which is the limit for this ARPU? Users tend to switch to cheaper applications, and that's normal, but how will this affect the IT business, the revenues and the expense in innovation?

Returning to voice, the combination of VoIP with WiFi is what threatens the current model. Having voice with mobility is what turned to be the success of technologies such as GSM. But full mobility is not easy to achieve, that's why current voice operators and their massive network deployments have still much to say. What can arise from this competition of technologies is new business models such as the flat rate for mobile calls as it is today for fixed communications.

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