The mobile voice market has always been at the forefront of technological disruption and innovation. Notably, the past decade has been particularly transformative for the mobile voice landscape with the introduction of ground-breaking advancements in technology, such as the commercial penetration of AI, the rise of highly advanced OTT (Over The Top) communication platforms, the rollout of 4G and 5G, etc.
Operators, whose business models only a decade ago relied predominantly on SMS, MMS and voice calls, are now under significant pressure of declining revenues, as hyper personalised and free OTT alternatives are gaining popularity.
VoLTE & VoWi-Fi
To adapt, network operators globally are migrating their mobile networks to an all-IP mobile ecosystem. Focus has moved to leveraging EPC (Evolved Packet Core) frameworks to converge data and voice services on the same network. In turn, this has created services such as VoLTE (Voice over LTE), VoWi-Fi (Voice over Wi-Fi) and HD Voice. This has enabled MNOs to provide services that can compete directly with the OTT applications in the voice space in terms of quality, whilst also leveraging an immediate user base offered by handset support.
Investment in 5G
The necessity to diversify revenue streams and achieve long term efficiency gains has driven operators to make vast investments in emerging technologies, including 5G and M2M networks, as well as to adopt agile business strategies to stay relevant for consumers in the voice space. The anticipated innovation of new voice technologies, hence, can leverage new networks to both increase revenues from voice services and reduce OPEX (Operational Expenditure). However, Juniper Research expects that it will take several years before operators reach significant economies of scale.
In the short term, operators must continue to explore opportunities from hosted services, notably through CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) or cloud-based means. In the future, this will be achieved by network slicing in 5G networks.
However, to minimise investment in infrastructure, Juniper Research believes that operators must offer services such as distributed data centres that can be placed close to network cores, thus reducing CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and OPEX, and offering improved QoS (Quality of Service). This will also minimise dependencies on certain network slices when making changes to services.
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