On Thursday, market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from its latest Mobile VoIP Services and Subscribers report, which found that the United States and Asia, especially South Korea, are leading the voice of LTE market, with Verizon Wireless, Metro PCS, SK Telecom and LG U+ all planning to launch VoLTE services this year.
“In fact, South Korea and Hong Kong have already successfully launched LTE data roaming and by August, SK Telecom expects to have the Samsung Galaxy S3, the first handset to support VoLTE on their network,” says Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research (Campbell, Calif., USA). “This is all good news for VoLTE, of course, but to put it in perspective, even with the VoLTE market ramping quickly here on out, by 2016 VoLTE will make up only about 14% of global mobile VoIP revenue, while over-the-top mobile VoIP continues to make up the lion's share by far.”
“However, while the tight integration of Skype with Windows Mobile 8 is important, the Windows Mobile operating system remains a distant player in the smartphone race,” says Myers. ”Meanwhile, independent OTT mVoIP providers like Google Voice, Fring, Line2, Nimbuzz, Talkonaut, ThruTu, and Truphone are working to differentiate from Skype and operator-driven OTT services such as T-Mobile’s Bobsled and Telefónica’s TU Me by making their service easier to use, lowering prices, integrating social networking, and adding video features.
Still, according to Myers, with OTT mVoIP subscribers paying an average of only $14 per year, sustaining an OTT mobile VoIP service is challenging. Most providers face daunting possibilities: go out of business or sell to a larger organization; or find a way to drive revenue beyond cheap calling, says Myers.
The report also found that the number of global OTT mobile VoIP subscribers more than doubled from 2010 to 2011, to 98 million, with about 40% of the subscribers based in EMEA.
Furthermore, with the first VoLTE services launching in late 2012, Infonetics expects the number of global VoLTE subscribers to reach about 300,000 this year.
In the U.S., AT&T (Dallas, Texas, USA) plans to have VoLTE in place by 2013, and Clearwire (Bellevue, Wash., USA) announced that it will offer VoLTE when it launches its TD-LTE network by mid-2013.