Wednesday, February 22, 2006

VoIP Comes to the Rescue of 3G

By Charlotte Wolter

The 3GSM World Congress 2006 last week in Barcelona, Spain, was an eye opener about the impact of VoIP on the mobile phone industry, and how VoIP might actually end up aiding 3G service providers, many of which are still trying to find their audiences.

The 3GSM conference centers on the developing 3G services worldwide, services that offer quasi-broadband (500 kbps to 700kbps) mobile IP voice and data. 3G services were conceived a decade ago as a way to expand traditional mobile technologies to provide broadband pipes. Multi-billion dollar spectrum licenses have been granted in many areas of the world to accommodate 3G services.
In the meantime, VoIP has developed and grown into a technology already used by tens-of-millions and is on its way to dominating voice communications.
Most VoIP services are very low-cost. Many are free. 3G services, by contrast, tend to be expensive high-end communications. Consequently, 3G services have struggled to find the legions of subscribers needed to help pay for the expensive licenses, and now feel the threat of Wi-Fi VoIP cutting into their already limited revenue.

However, some 3G providers seem to have decided to embrace, rather than fight, the VoIP phenomenon. The 3GSM conference saw the announcement of some major VoIP-3G alliances and the hints of others. Also, new technology, such as the Windows Mobile operating system, can be exploited to bring VoIP to any smart mobile phone.


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