The successful deployment of VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) over future 4G networks will determine the technology's sustainability, according to a Maravedis report.
The research firm said in its latest wireless VoIP market report, the bandwidth promised by 4G standards, WiMax and LTE, spells "great opportunity" for VoIP vendors.
However, in order to ensure service quality, network providers have to set out specific provisions for voice traffic over their networks.
Basharat Ashai, co-author of the report, said: "Vendor selection is key. Since WiMax does not today specifically address how Quality of Service (QoS) is applied for voice traffic, equipment vendors decide how to classify packets as VoIP and how to apply QoS to those packets.
"Best practices for network architecture and provisioning are lacking," said Ashai.
"Next generation wireless technologies--WiMax in particular--have done little to ensure that VoIP over wireless solutions from vendors are adequate and consistent. "There are no real guidelines for packet classification or the application of a grade of service to VoIP packets, meaning that carriers can find themselves on their own as they try to build their VoIP wireless network," said the report.
Maravedis recommended fixed voice over WiMax to be positioned as a wireline replacement technology.
Besides WiMax, LTE poses another hurdle for VoIP to cross--the "walled-garden" of cellular carriers, said Maravedis CEO, Adlane Fellah. "LTE, much like WiMax, is being optimized for VoIP performance," he said.
However, the report noted that 3G+ operators' attitudes towards VoIP are "split between those who are afraid of losing revenues and those who embrace the open platform", with the majority of service providers still deciding what their VoIP strategy would look like.
Another factor driving mobile VoIP adoption will likely be multi-mode Internet devices supporting WiMax, 3G and LTE connectivity. This will in turn drive increased VoIP subscription and average revenues per user, said the report.
According to Maravedis, the current worldwide Voice over 4G (Vo4G) subscriber pool is mostly WiMax-based, and stands at less than 300,000. Europe leads with a share of 35 percent, followed by the Asia-Pacific region at 25 percent.
The report adds that 4G service providers stand to gain from the new source of revenue stream from VoIP. "Vo4G can make a dramatic impact on service providers' top line revenues...[and] greatly impact the overall size of the LTE and WiMax markets," said the report.