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New technologies drive down mobile voice costs

A new research report says companies could benefit from an increasingly competitive mobile voice market, as provider rivalries drives down prices and new services emerge.

New technologies and additional revenue streams are shaking up the voice market, and it could provide cost saving opportunities for businesses.

A new Pyramid Research report, titled "The Future of Mobile Voice," suggests cellular operators offer mobile VoIP and rethink their end-user services and networks to increase revenue. In turn, this could allow companies to widely adopt mobile VoIP while enjoying lower prices and additional functionalities.

 The report's author, Svetlana Issaeva, surveyed current mobile pricing strategies that lead to growing mobile usage and assessed the future of mobile IP technologies. Issaeva concluded voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) and convergence technologies provide a $200 billion growth opportunity in a $500 billion market.

Issaeva said these technologies include unlicensed mobile access (UMA), Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) EV-DO Revision A, which will offer support for VoIP, and mobile technologies such as High-Speed Downlink Packet Access/ High-Speed Uplink Packet Access A and 802.16e (mobile WiMAX). All of which, Issaeva said, will be used for high-speed mobile data and VoIP services.

The Cambridge Mass.-based Pyramid recommended mobile providers investigate new delivery networks, such as WLANs, and move toward mobile VoIP. Otherwise, they risk losing ground to fixed-line operators that are aggressively incorporating mobile services into their portfolios.

The main drivers for enterprise adoption of VoWLAN and convergence technologies, according to Issaeva, will be cost savings, enhanced IP-based functionalities and a growing adoption of WLAN for data purposes.

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 With the introduction of all-IP wireless networks, Issaeva said she expects to see growth of existing corporate applications -- such as file sharing, video conferencing and instant messaging -- moving to a mobile device. However, Issaeva warned that businesses might be slow to adapt.

"Certainly, it'll take time to convince businesses that quality of service and security have been properly addressed," Issaeva said. "But once there is a sufficient number of innovators and early adopters, the move to the mass market will be very rapid."

That's because in the past year, Issaeva said, it became possible for enterprises to implement end-user VoWLAN services that are both secure and of a high quality. Issaeva said cost savings will be the next major driver of VoWLAN adoption as fixed-line operators constantly look for opportunities to provide VoWLAN and different ways to offer better value than mobile operators. For enterprises, Issaeva said there is a window of opportunity to play fixed and mobile operators against each other to get the best service.

She added that over the next several years, end users will notice changes such as access-independent mobile services and all mission-critical applications migrating to mobile devices. In addition, Issaeva predicts a growing number of service providers capable of offering full service portfolios, which means more price competition and more affordable services.

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