Recent comments by a Cingular executive on VoIP calling over the Cingular data network has resulted in more then a few bloggers chiming in on “what this means.” For me, this means that cellular companies finally view VoIP as either a viable threat or a viable new revenue source to their business. My gut feeling tells me that their is a good chance that cellular companies will look to work with handset manufacturers to add soft phone VoIP clients to future SMART and PDA phones. This would give cellular providers the ability to offer their own Triple Threat; Cellular, Data, and VoIP all from one handset.
An article in today’s InformationWeek VoIP Over Wi-Fi Helps, Hurts Service Providers speaks about the looming threat WVoIP (Wi-Fi VoIP) poses to cellular service providers profits. I say to cellular service providers “It will only hurt if you fight it (Wi-Fi VoIP).”
If Cellular service providers are looking to protect their revenues, then they should work with mobile handset vendors and Wi-Fi network provides to produce Wi-Fi/Cellular handsets. With these “dual mode” devices, cellular service providers will be able to offset the loss of roaming revenues through the sale of data plans through which customers can place calls through cellular and Wi-Fi networks.
Another route would be for the cellular providers to acquire small to mid-sze Wi-Fi service providers, and attempt to build out their “own” Wi-Fi networks. It is also quite possible that they may look to purchase small to mid-size VoIP service providers. Whatever the case maybe, the emergence of WVoIP will only hurt them if they fight it.
British supermarket chain, Tesco recently announced that they are adding a VoIP service offering through their Tesco Telcoms subsiderary. Not really that shocking huh? Of course not everyone is hopping on the IP Telephony bandwagon these days. What was found to be interesting was this quote from Alex Freudmann, a commercial manager at the company,
Because Tesco’s VoIP traffic will travel over the public Internet, it won’t be able to guarantee the quality of service. However, the company claims that the quality will be better than traditional fixed-line telephony because of the data compression rates it uses. “Assuming you have a reasonable phone, the sound quality is better than a landline. We tested the service in customer test groups and had favorable results. We minimized the data feed–it’s compressed as much as possible. It even works very well over narrowband,” Freudmann said.
Statements such as this will continue to come about as more and more companies try to get into the IP Telephony space. What is unfortunate about statements like the one made above is that it clearly over promises. This is a traditional business “no-no” never over promise, then under deliver. By stating that the call quality is “better than a landline” this Alex obviously has never used the service. I have used dozen’s of VoIP services over the past two years, and none of them were “better then a lanline” and certainly none of them “worked well over narrowband” or dial-up. Instead of educating consumers about the IP Telephony and VoIP, yet another company has taken the easy way out and made promises they will not be able to keep.Garrett Smith