Mobile operators advised to scrap VoIP bans

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Mobile operators advised to scrap VoIP bans

Fast growing market cannot be ignored.

Mobile phone operators should not delay their entry into the mobile VoIP market, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

The analyst firm said that the mobile VoIP market in the US, Europe and Asia generated US$606m ($729m) in revenues in 2008, and that this figure will leap to US$30bn by 2015.

The adoption of mobile VoIP by consumers has been spurred by the emergence of flat-rate mobile data pricing, growth in smartphone shipments and high-speed mobile broadband, the report said.

Start-ups have been quick to enter the market, and traditional VoIP companies, such as Skype and Truphone, now provide customers with mobile clients.

However, mobile operators are tending to ban the technology in order to limit damage to voice revenues.

"Despite user demand for cost-effective services, some mobile operators will continue to discourage subscribers from using VoIP over cellular networks, and suggest that it will not provide the same quality, efficiency and reliability of service offered by the GSM network," said Frost & Sullivan senior analyst Saverio Romeo.

The report estimates that 60 to 70 percent of major European mobile operators prohibit or restrict the use of VoIP in order to push mobile broadband data plans.

Frost & Sullivan urged mobile operators to do away with the bans and support mobile VoIP, but to differentiate their services from pure-play VoIP companies and mobile VoIP start-ups by offering innovative services.

Examples include high-definition voice, integrated voice with context-based information about the user, and a converged presence-enabled address book, said the analyst firm.

The report echoes findings from Ovum earlier this month, which suggested that operators risk alienating customers by blocking access to VoIP technology on mobile devices.

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