Just a few years ago, the market was ready for VoIP, but the broadband providers dragged their feet, making the task of selling VoIP far more challenging than it was ever meant to be.
Mobile VoIP is the new requirement, but once again, VoIP providers find themselves at the mercy of the broadband providers, and in this case, more specifically the cellular giants.
Despite wireless hotspots becoming increasingly available, the real success of mobile VoIP sits in the hands of teams of red, yellow, black and blue. This becomes even more apparent when recent studies indicated that three out of four South Africans access the Internet on their mobile phones.
Pressure from consumers, supported by the availability of VoIP apps in an ever growing smartphone market, makes it clear that mobile VoIP is not the future, but the now. However, mobile Internet connection’s bandwidth and latency still remains the primary obstacle.
Connectivity problems are fairly simple to deal with when streaming media, but more intricate to fix for VoIP calls. Consumers are less likely to complain about a bit of buffering before watching a video clip, but definitely won’t tolerate a phone conversation that suffers from a few seconds of lag. Such lag inconveniences may discourage the most budget-minded people form making use of the service.
Walter Madzonga, Wanatel Technical Manager, adds: “VoIP requires stable connectivity; this has in the past led providers like ourselves to deploy VoIP solutions primarily on fixed infrastructure. Some WISPs have achieved success with the use of QOS on licensed or uncongested frequencies, but unless they can provide a wide coverage mesh network, they cannot offer true mobility for VoIP. For this, VoIP must look towards such technologies as 3G, 4G and now LTE.”
With limited success thus far on 3G, is LTE the mobile VoIP saviour?
VoIP is definitely on the road to becoming mobile, but how long the journey takes and how comfortable the ride will be still depends on the cellular giants holding onto their voice revenue.