Last week, we highlighted a report on VoLTE (Voice over LTE) that talks about how mobile operators are transitioning to a technology that will incorporate voice over IP (VoIP) onto the mobile data channel. However, we’ve also seen other alternatives for mobile VoIP blossom over the years, including mobile apps offered by “over the top” (OTT) VoIP providers (such as Vonage and Skype), landline VoIP carriers (such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable) and Internet portal providers including Google, Yahoo!, and others.
New entrants are adding diversity of choice for mobile VoIP, with Facebook topping the list of successful newcomers. In the latest round of financial reports, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that his company has rolled out VoIP calls on WhatsApp, also reporting that Facebook Messenger “already accounts for more than 10% of mobile VoIP calls globally.”
New and legacy VoIP over mobile services are typically bundled with other applications that are typically consumer-oriented services such as click to call, messaging, email, and text that are typically found with business-grade unified communications platforms. Many mobile VoIP apps provide a “mobile extension” of the user’s home phone connection, along with the option for video calling—also features common on enterprise UC platforms.
Other twists on mobile VoIP rely on voice over Wi-Fi. For example, earlier this year, Cablevision introduced a Wi-Fi only calling service called Freewheel that leverages Cablevision’s 1.1 million hot spots across the tri-state area centered on New York. The all-WiFi phone service provides unlimited data, talk and text for $29.95 per month, or $9.95 per month for Cablevision’s Optimum Online customers.
So far, other U. S. cable providers have not announced plans for a similar service, but their Wi-Fi networks and VoIP infrastructure could easily support such a service. Comcast, with over 8 million Xfinity hotspots, would be a very competitive player. Still, these Wi-Fi-only services can lack roaming agreements with mobile operators, so once out of hot spot range, the VoIP session will drop—leaving the Wi-Fi caller at a distinct advantage.
The bottom line: while mobile voice delivered by traditional carriers is evolving to VoIP and VoLTE, callers have many other options for mobile VoIP calls and IP communications services.