Commentary -According to a Frost & Sullivan report that was issued in May of this year, the next five years will see a huge spike in the demand for mobile VoIP services – from $605.8 million in 2008 to $29.57 billion worldwide by 2015. The same report estimates that 288 million people are expected to be using Mobile VoIP by the end of 2013.
With the introduction of 4G and LTE (Long Term Evolution) this year, wireless speeds are now reaching those of T1 landline-based connections, regardless of location and will be available at very affordable, competitive prices.
The biggest change that businesses can expect to see over the next year is a willingness by carriers to deliver mobile VoIP offerings. This has already been demonstrated by Verizon’s partnership with Skype. However, the Verizon/Skype offering doesn’t allow a user to circumvent the Verizon network to provide true VoIP service, merely using Verizon’s network to route Skype calls. There are some indications that larger carriers are thinking about charging hidden fees to provide VoIP on their network.
Moving forward, businesses should look very closely at the fine print of their mobile VoIP service and know that there are other options available, many of which will be geared specifically for businesses. Companies like Vumber are already starting to offer true mobile VoIP applications that skate around the traditional carrier calling plan.
So what are the benefits and what makes Mobile VoIP ideal for business use?
* Collaboration – Mobile VoIP “calls” should be thought of as “sessions” that any number of participants could join or leave as they please. This functionality makes it easier for collaboration to happen, both internally and externally. Colleagues connected by VoIP can invite other colleagues to join the VoIP session without having to end the current phone call and can set up a new conference call, provide dial-in information, and moderate the session.
* Connectivity – Wi-Fi connectivity is much less susceptible to variables than a 3G connection and can provide international connectivity, even if a mobile plan does not. For small- to mid-sized businesses, this always-on connectivity can be priceless and the ability to inexpensively communicate with business partners overseas keeps things from getting too expensive. For instance, an employee on a business trip India can join a regularly scheduled office meeting using a hotel’s existing Wi-Fi network.
* Control – Mobile VoIP gives employees more control over their calls. Using a laptop they can quickly and easily control call forwarding and voice mail, as well as other phone features, reducing the time spent on the phone to change these features. From a managerial standpoint, a mobile VoIP plan gives easier access to network data, making it easier to monitor mobile usage, call quality and oversee an entire mobile network. In an office with many on-the-go employees, this can prove to be invaluable.
* Convenience – Perhaps most important to a small- or mid-sized business is the ability of a mobile VoIP system to closely integrate with online tools and documents. This functionality makes it literally possible to take an office on the road, allowing an employee to access a mobile phone address book, initiate a call, add participants and share documents to be specifically discussed, using a single GUI.
* Consistency – Employees also have the convenience of being able to call anyone from anywhere from what appears to be a consistent number. Calls from outside of the office appear no differently than calls from across the world. Clients can connect to a business on a single line and that same number appears when that business returns the call, no matter where the caller is located.
* Cost-Savings - There are significant cost savings to be gained from mobile VoIP. There are VoIP apps currently available that provide free calling from app to app and significantly less expensive calls for VoIP to network. The amount of data used during a VoIP call is significantly smaller than more bandwidth intensive actions, such as watching a video or playing an online game. Enterprise data plans provide unlimited usage, so users need not worry about how long a call goes.
Managing a business means closely examining every cost while providing employees with the tools that make them most effective. Mobile VoIP is currently one of the best ways for companies to control wireless costs, maximize their wireless investment and maintain if not improve employee productivity.
Jason Katz is the Founder and CEO of Paltalk.com and oversees the strategic direction of Paltalk as well as manages the company’s system architecture. He is an authority on instant messaging as well as Web-based voice and video. Jason previously co-founded MJ Capital, a money management firm. Jason earned a JD from the New York University School of Law (1988) and a BA in economics from the University of Pennsylvania (1985).