First of all, what is “non-dialable” VoIP? It is an application, such as Google Voice, which is downloaded to a smartphone and only requires data access (3G is good enough) for usage. In this example, Google is the so called “Over-the-Top” (OTT) service provider as they are arms-length with respect to the wireless carrier.
The incumbent carriers must deal with the threat of these “dial around” voice over wireless IP (or VoIP over Wireless OTT) providers by offering their own “dialable” VoIP. We mean “dialable” in the sense that the end-user does not have to download, and subsequently open a separate program every time they want to make a call (or in the case of Google Voice, hit an extra button that says “Use Google Voice”). While many of these OTT VoIP providers have a way to “wake up” the application within the smart phone OS for incoming calls, all outgoing calls require a few more steps than is the case with simply dialing from the keypad.
There is downward price pressure on voice services and even basic data service. This is driven by a variety of factors including increasingly greater wireless capacity, which will become even more of a supply-side factor with LTE. On the demand side, bear services, particularly data, continues to grow at a healthy pace, but there are limits to grow in bearer service for consumer and even enterprise usage. In addition, there is an increasing awareness of Internet Protocol (IP) being cheap source of transport, and hence more people becoming aware of VoIP, and therefore Over the Top (OTT) VoIP alternatives.
Our latest research and forecasting of Mobile VAS applications in our report Mobile Value-added Services (VAS) in 4G: Market Analysis and Forecasts for LTE-based VAS 2013 – 2018 has validated our concerns that mobile network operators must face the challenge of OTT players and applications head-on, particularly for their core voice and messaging services. Our findings and recommendations include:
- Challenges to carrier business include existing concerns, such as Over-the-Top (OTT) service providers, as well as emerging threats such as Direct (Peer-to-Peer) Communications, which shall ironically be enabled via LTE.
- Network operators must deal with the threat of these “dial around” voice over wireless IP (or VoIP over Wireless OTT) OTT service providers by offering their own “dialable” VoIP. Dialable VoIP is enabled through Voice over LTE (VoLTE). Network operators must also offer Rich Communications Suite (RCS) as a multimedia VAS application to combat OTT competition. Carriers must also embrace API integration with various third-parties to offer their own VAS.
- It is our strong recommendation to incumbent carriers that they recognize that core bearer based revenues will go down over time. They must leverage LTE infrastructure and capabilities to offer their own differentiating capabilities including premium-priced VAS applications
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