Mobile VoIP is here to stay, expect more mVoip alliances
The advent in coming years of mobile VoIP means that mobile operators may be caught between a "rock and a hard place", but mobile VoIP may not all be bad news for the mobile operators that still dominate the cellular landscape.
And there are other forces at play in the mobile industry that mean that cellular VoIP will eventually become a tool they can use themselves to reduce the costs associated with their network and traffic carriage.
If that synopsis of the future of mobile sounds a bit rosy, it is probably because it is. Operators are already witnessing substantial declines in their voice revenues. Though these have so far been largely mitigated by increased data revenues, this will not always be the case.
Mobile voice revenues are on a downward trend- you would be hard pushed to find a voice to say otherwise. This means that the job of the mobile operator is becoming one of damage limitation. Maybe the best way to manage this process in the medium term is to form alliances with a VoIP operator like Skype of Truphone. UK operator 3 has seen data volumes, and revenues from this data, rise significantly on the back of its alliance with Skype. Indeed, many have joined the network due to the cheap calls that Skype makes possible. In a saturated market and as the last player to enter the market, that is not a bad way to achieve subscribers.
Verizon, meanwhile, has little to lose by forming an alliance with Skype (as it announced at MWC) since the US market is so competitive that virtually unlimited voice call bundles exist already at similar rates.
Increasingly, Skype is positioning itself as an ally to the mobile community. Fighting regulators' calls for net neutrality, competition from peers, and increasingly able handsets which, lets face it, could cut out the mobile operator entirely, is unlikely to be sustainable in the long term for mobile operators. This will mean that, over the years, carriers will accept the olive branch that their former adversaries (mobile VoIP players) have extended, and they may even become the mobile operator's best friends.
It then becomes a game of reducing carriage costs. That, of course, is where LTE steps in...but that is for next time.