Research: Number of Global OTT mVoIP Subscribers Doubled in 2011

By Jessica Binns, Contributing Editor — June 29, 2012

Market research firm Infonetics Research released highlights from its latest Mobile VoIP Services and Subscribers report, which tracks native mobile voice over IP (voice over Long Term Evolution, or VoLTE) and over-the-top (OTT) mVoIP service revenue, subscribers, and deployments by world region.

"The U.S. and Asia, especially South Korea, are leading the voice over LTE charge, with Verizon Wireless, Metro PCS, SK Telecom and LG U+ all planning to launch VoLTE services this year," reports Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research. "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. 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 percent of global mobile VoIP revenue, while over-the-top mobile VoIP continues to make up the lion's share by far."

Co-author of the report Diane Myers, Infonetics Research’s principal analyst for VoIP and IMS, adds: "In the crowded OTT mobile VoIP market, Microsoft/Skype still dominates; 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. 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, with OTT mVoIP subscribers paying an average of only $14 per year, sustaining an OTT mobile VoIP service is extremely challenging, and 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," he added.

Mobile VoIP Market Highlights

  • The number of global OTT mobile VoIP subscribers more than doubled from 2010 to 2011, to 98 million, with about 40 percent of subscribers based in EMEA
  • With the first VoLTE services launching in late 2012, Infonetics expects the number of global VoLTE subscribers to reach about 300,000 this year
  • AT&T plans to have VoLTE in place by 2013, and Clearwire announced that it will offer VoLTE when it launches its TD-LTE network by mid-2013

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