Can Mobile VoIP Wipe Out All Other Communication Channels?

With regard to mobile telephony, most of us, if not all of us, are in line with the idea. Not only do we have our wireless data plans in place, but most of us have a smartphone that we’d turn around to retrieve if we realized we’d left it at home. We simply won’t allow ourselves to be without our “outboard brains” for more than a few minutes. This is not only an evolution of telecom, but a quantum leap in terms of the technology we’ve used since the days of the switchboard operator. These days, we’re not only hyper-connected, but we’re also thronging to mobile VoIP.

In fact, according to certain reports put out by the Federal Communications Commission, over 45 percent of consumers with landline voice service are also using VoIP. The report, which is titled “The Local Telephone Competition,” also shows that over 35 percent of consumers are obtaining that VoIP service from a telecom provider that is actually not their current phone company.

However, business customers are somewhat of a different story. In fact, the FCC sees that about 15 percent of business phone lines are actually using VoIP, which is a long way away from what providers would like us to believe. The edge in the market is commanded by the incumbent carriers as over 55 percent of the market’s share goes to business landline customers. In the middle of the year 2013, though, carriers claimed about 8 million business VoIP lines. Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), on the other hand, sold over 835,000 VoIP lines to business customers over that same timeframe.

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Believe it or not, all of the statistics covering wireless usage are, in reality, covered each year by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This agency of the U.S. Government compares landline households with those who use wireless devices. They found that about 41 percent of Americans, or two in every five homes, used only wireless devices in the latter half of 2013. At the same time, the CDC found that wireless update had slowed somewhat in 2013, as compared to earlier years.

ILECs will lose up to 70 percent of switched access lines, from 2000 to 2015, according to the U.S. Telecom Association. Additionally, they will lose up to 80 percent of switched residential access lines. The largest push to this shift is the competition from the facilities-based cable and wireless providers. Customers are starting to see some better options, and they’re not hesitating to jump on board — not only do they see the options that support their mobile habits, but they see the all-important cost savings as well.

On the whole, the conclusions drawn in these reports seem to show that although the average consumer is ready to go with mobile VoIP, the business user is not. In fact, the uptake rate for residential VoIP services is about three times greater than for businesses. What does this suggest, then? Is there just less risk for Joe Consumer? Or is that switch just easier for him to make than for a whole enterprise?

The reality is that there is more than enough opportunity in the business environment for a provider who is able to inspire a change. The real question is, though, is whether these providers can understand the businesses’ hesitation in the first place. Only then will they be able to offer a better solution by overcoming the objections in the first place.

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