The VoIP industry, like many industries is becoming stratified. There seems to be several emerging markets – such as residential VoIP markets (i.e.: Vonage and Charter), personal VoIP markets (i.e.: Skype and Gizmo), and enterprise VoIP markets, where there’s even more stratification (i.e.: Software-based IP PBX, Hardware-based IP PBX, On-Premise vs. Hosted IP PBX’s, Windows vs. Linux, etc.).
One of the more interesting VoIP markets that I am monitoring at Deerfield.com is the Mobile VoIP market. What piques my interest here is the promise of convergence between the ubiquitous mobile phone and enterprise IP PBX phone systems.
If we look at the telecommunications industry as a whole, it’s fairly easy to recognize that the mobile wireless segment has grown very aggressively over the last 10-15 years. While cell phones were primarily only carried by white collar executives and the affluent 15 years ago, today they’re in the hip pocket of almost every man, woman, and child. Also notable, a growing number of families and SMB’s are only using mobile phones – and ditching their hardwired counterparts, using their mobile as their exclusive point of contact for voice. Why? A partial list follows:
Busier Lifestyles: That average individual of today is more “involved” in work, play and family; the cell phone enables parties to stay in contact when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. They also make us safer and more efficient in managing busy work schedules and lifestyles.
Cost Savings: In addition to the portability and convenience, mobile provider call plans can help families and businesses save money on “in-network”, and domestic long distance calls.
Coolness Factor:The cell phone that you carry tells others something about you, similarly to the car that you drive, or the clothes that you wear.
Where mobile call plans are weak (relatively) is International calls. Typically cell phone International long distance charges are considerably more expensive than their landline counterparts. Additionally, today several mobile phone providers do not offer International service, so many of these phones are useless when trying to either call, or be used abroad.
Maybe not surprising is that one of the great strengths of an IP PBX is the potential cost savings that they offer on International calls. There are a few different cost-saving options – such as a direct SIP call via the Internet where there are no long-distance charges, as the two connecting devices only use the public Internet to complete the call to one another. Also, most business-grade VoIP Providers offer very affordable International rate cards that are far below the traditional telco long distance providers. Of course, traditional telcom/long distance services are also available to the IP PBX’s of the world – which is still better than most mobile International call rates.
IP PBX’s can also help users get even closer to UM with strong VoIP industry support for mobile devices, allowing any Smartphone equipped individual in a suitable wireless broadband hotspot make and receive VoIP calls at their normal work extension, and allowing them to receive their office VM’s as email on their handheld devices. If the mobile telecom providers’ of the world further adopt VoIP protocols, and/or install VoIP gateways, this makes the dream a reality.
Today there is no doubt in my mind that for many people the majority of the total number of minutes that they speak via phone, are on their mobile. I see this trend further continuing. Mobile VoIP could be the next catalyst in the mobile and VoIP IP PBX markets. The functional and financial incentives are there for these two technologies to intersect.
Check out 3CX’s Android and iPhone Clients