More and more VoIP services and providers have emerged in recent years and clearly the direction is to move towards mobile VoIP, allowing the same features and convenience that most fixed-line VoIP users have enjoyed over the years to be available while on the go. As technologies improve, voice and data transmissions quality have significantly improved, with additional multimedia and video conferencing capabilities made available by most providers.
The next step would be to have VoIP capabilities run through standard mobile networks particularly 3G, EDGE and GPRS standards. Previous restrictions have limited VoIP use only through WiFi networks, although recently operators and device manufacturers have started to allow the use of VoIP over their standard 3G networks. The implications of these developments are so profound that it will shake the future of telecommunications in the years to come.
The tremendous popularity of smartphones like Apple’s iPhone have taken the mobile world by storm. With the parallel popularity of VoIP usage over fixed-line locations, it would only be a matter or time before mobile users would eventually demand the ability to use VoIP over the mobile systems like 3G. However, restrictions from carriers have relegated VoIP use on devices like the iPhone only through Wi-Fi and are prevented from using the phone’s own data connections.
Many have speculated that these restrictions were brought about by the carriers protecting their own core businesses as telephony providers. Others are seeing an already heavy congestion on the 3G networks that would definitely balloon should VoIP usage come into play. Still, these restrictions have prompted the FCC to pressure these carriers and mobile providers, also due in part to FCC’s commitment to openness policies and consumer support.
The Latest News and Developments:
With the popularity of smartphones like the iPhone hitting the market like a wave, so does the clamor for Voice over IP that would allow users to use applications like Skype and Fring to make free calls over their mobile networks. Restrictions placed a lid on this for a while, until announcements made from major 3G carrier AT&T that it has lifted its previous policy of barring use of VoIP over 3G on their iPhone devices.
This news comes as a welcome surprise for the myriad iPhone users and the millions of previously frustrated VoIP application users clamoring for the 3G networks to open up. The first to take advantage is iCall, with Skype, Fring and Vonage following suit, allowing iPhone users to finally make VoIP calls over their phone’s 3G network.
The Future of VoIP over 3G:
The use of VoIP applications like Skype over the iPhone and eventually all other smartphones and even Blackberry devices has very significant implications for the mobile communications world, particularly in the area of lower call costs as compared to very expensive carrier plans. This trend is true not only in the United States but in other regions as well such as Europe where cell carriers have blocked VoIP usage over their 3G networks.
Despite the much lower costs in making VoIP calls, comparatively 15 times lower than standard 3G calls, experts have projected a very dynamic forecasts for mobile phone operators with the potential of earning way over $30 billion from the expected exponential growth of mobile VoIP users over 3G networks. Part of this is the integration of VoIP over 3G capabilities in other devices such as the iPad, as well as integration into social mobile networking websites and communities. It’s a whole new realm of global communications.
Andrew is a SaaS and SIP enthusiast.