Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Is Skype the Future of Voice?

The industry has decided that IMS (or VoLTE) is definately the solution to providing voice over LTE, but recent announcements by the likes of Verizon Wireless who will be joining forces with Skype, was an interesting move.

From March, consumers in the USA will be able to get Skype on a wide range of VZW phones, including the BlackBerry, Droid by Motorola, Eris by HTC and the Motorola Devour. The service will allow users to make and receive unlimited free Skype-to-Skype voice calls and send and receive instant messages. The devices selected for the Skype deal are likely to be generating most of the revenues from data anyway. Could this be VZW starting to look a new business models for its upcoming LTE network?

Commenting on the announcement, Dario Talmesio, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said: “The Skype/Verizon announcement demonstrates that mobile operators are beginning to change their attitude towards VoIP providers, they have gone from blocking to managing what they consider to be an issue."

VZW isn't the first operator to embrace this level of openess. 3UK launched “Skype on 3” back in May 2009 and celebrated it billionth phone call over Skype last month. Preferring to offer free voice for it customers and generating revenues from data only, this has proved to be an extremely successful business model in them in the UK.

Skype has just released software for Nokia's Symbian operating system, expanding its reach to more than 200 million smartphones around the world, allowing users to make free Skype-to-Skype calls rather than using voice minutes. Nokia has been ramping up Internet services to boost its sales in the highly competitive smartphone market. Last month, it began giving away its navigation software, Ovi maps. Skype added that it will soon release its service for other Symbian devices from handset makers including Sony Ericsson.

The majority of mobile operators however, have yet to make a firm decision on mobile VoIP. Operators have realised that future revenue growth will be from data services and that in the future - and especially with the introduction of LTE, voice will just be one of many applications on the handset or smartphone. But voice still accounts for a major part of operator revenues and they want to hang on to it for as long as they can.