Operators’ mobile VoIP strategies

Operators’ mobile VoIP strategies

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw, VP marketing at Kineto Wireless, on making mobile VoIP work for carriers and customers alike.

Despite international roaming fees being one of the worst kept ‘dirty secrets’, barely a week goes by without a traveller being left red faced and empty-walleted by an astronomical phone bill.

It is a problem which has seen something of a renaissance with the increased use of smartphones and the tendency of users to consume vast amounts of data on the move. For businesses, roaming charges, alongside the cost of WiFi subscriptions, are some of the biggest drains on their mobility budget.

Differentiate for margin

However, operators cannot simply replicate services from providers such as Skype, Fring, Jajah and Truphone for this route; it would yield ever decreasing margins. Instead, they must use mobile VoIP to differentiate themselves.

Carrier-branded mobile VoIP services need to provide customers with a superior user experience, something mobile Skype and other similar services are lacking for daily usage. While some of these services are growing their user base, it is predominantly for consumers proactively trying to avoid expensive international calls.

 

When deployed in a smart manner, mobile VoIP allows operators to use WiFi as a seamless extension of the cellular network. This enables subscribers to seamlessly move onto WiFi for international or domestic calling, while helping offload traffic from the crowded cellular network.

 

Heart of the matter

At the heart of operators providing a superior VoIP application, is ensuring a seamless user experience so consumers face no additional hurdles when using VoIP instead of traditional voice. This would drive subscribers to continue to use their smartphones for all calls and would eliminate their need for competitive VoIP services.

With the launch of Skype’s VoIP over 3G app, which is becoming increasingly popular among iPhone users, VoIP has become even more of a threat to carriers’ business models. Combine VoIP with widespread consumer uptake of WiFi on their smartphones, and operators are exposed on multiple fronts as subscribers find alternate ways to access voice and data services. 

In its search for an integrated, branded VoIP service, Telefónica acquired a third party company, a move that illustrates the prominent role mobile VoIP plays in its strategy. However, acquisition is clearly not a viable option for every operator.
Instead, operators can leverage their existing voice infrastructure to offer mobile VoIP services, and WiFi is the ideal tool for this.

Most smartphones on the market come with WiFi but require users to actively switch it on and off. Even so, according to a recent YouGov survey of 2200 UK respondents, 50% of smartphone owners use their phones’ WiFi capabilities every day. What could be achieved if operators offered a seamless WiFi-GSM service?

 

Capitalise on consumers

Operators should capitalise on consumers’ hunger for WiFi. A smarter WiFi approach offers consumers something even more compelling; a better user experience.

By optimising network usage through smart WiFi, operators can create a proposition that is appealing to both sides of the relationship. Operators will benefit from WiFi offload and increased customer loyalty, as subscribers should no longer feel compelled to use competing mobile VoIP services. Meanwhile, consumers will be attracted by discounted calls, better indoor coverage for both voice and data services and the ease of a seamless integrated service. 

Mobile operators are changing their views on VoIP in order to stay ahead in a competitive market. Now it is time for them to see economical sense in Wi-Fi and provide subscribers with the smart WiFi solution they want, increasing customer loyalty and closing the door to revenue leakage.

Kineto is committed to enabling mobile operators to fully embrace the cost and performance advantages of IP-based broadband access networks.  www.kineto.com

 
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