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Friday, February 18, 2005

GSM Players Not To Fear Or Ignore VoIP

(Via Telecom Asia) The emergence of VoIP apps like Skype isn’t just bothering fixed-line telcos – the prospect of VoIP over wireless LANs is making cellcos nervous too. Some see it as a threat, some as an opportunity, but many see it as inevitable and something that can’t be ignored. "VoIP is a huge threat, but it’s one that’s coming from outside of the constraints of the mobile environment," said Mike Mulica, president and CEO of BridgePort Networks. "Skype and these converged voice/data models are providing a low-cost alternative to voice substitution for in-building minutes of use that allows you to go to a low-cost model."Swisscom Mobile CEO Carsten Schloter, however, was more upbeat, seeing VoIP as an opportunity for the mobile sector as well as the customer. "The ability to integrate these services, fixed, wireless, broadband, home networks over WLAN, that’s an opportunity for the customer. It’s a fact that IP will open the value chain and the margins will come down. Ignore it, and you will move behind the market."
There was some debate over what VoIP – and in particular Skype, with its free software and free calls to other Skype users – will mean to the mobile industry’s top line.The mobile business is becoming more about lowest-cost services over IP for future services. Overall, it’s incumbent on the mobile industry to make the mobile number and services profile the prime service that customers want to use on either fixed or mobile networks or both, and they need to do it soon if they want to avoid erosion of MoU and revenues..
John O'Connell (CEO of Kineto Wireless)concludes by saying "I think that within three to five years, everyone in this room will have a Wi-Fi enabled handset. During that time, there’ll be a lot of things happening to drive it along the lines of Skype and Vonage. If you sit and do nothing, that’s probably a mistake."

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