Heavy Reading

Wireless VOIP & the Future of Carrier Voice Services

The business model for conventional telecom voice services (both wireline and wireless) is being unquestionably and permanently dismantled by several technological and market developments, the most important of which are the arrival of voice over IP (VOIP) as a mainstream service alternative and the growing deployment of 802.11 wireless LANs (a.k.a. WiFi networks) by enterprises, local governments, and residential users installing wireless home networks. Although VOIP and 802.11 developed as separate technologies, they are now maturing in a way that makes them complementary components that pose a clear and present threat to carrier voice services and revenues.

Faced with even more traffic and revenue erosion due to the twin arrivals of VOIP and 802.11, major telecom carriers around the world are now investigating, and in some cases already pursuing, opportunities that further blur the distinctions between different types of voice services. A critical component of these approaches is the dual-mode handset an end-user device that functions as both a conventional cellular voice handset and a device that can be used for voice calls placed over 802.11 networks.

Dual-mode handsets are attractive to different elements of the voice services ecosystem for different reasons. Wireline operators are coming to view dual-mode handsets as a way to hold onto enterprise and residential customers now using 802.11 wireless LANs, which still ultimately requires a wireline connection to the Internet. Cellular operators see them as a way to wean more end users away from wireline voice services. And end users stand to benefit from having a single phone for making all their calls (and potentially a single number and single bill, too).

A number of carriers this year have launched dual-mode mobile voice tariffs designed to enable users to take advantage of lower-cost VOIP calls in the home or enterprise, and in some cases in public WiFi hotspots. Carriers that have launched services based on the dual-mode model include aggressive virtual network operators (VNOs) such as Hello (Norway), emerging Tier 2 operators such as Neuf Cegetel (France), and incumbent fixed and mobile carriers such as Singapore Telecom (SingTel), France Telecom, and Deutsche Telekom. These early initiatives represent the first of what will likely prove to be dozens of dual-mode service launches in the next 12 to 18 months in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Wireless VOIP & the Future of Carrier Voice Services describes in detail the dual-mode value propositions launched to date, and it provides a detailed update of BT Fusion, BT's dual-mode initiative that uses Bluetooth, as well as BT's plans to extend its dual-mode service proposition to UMA-based GSM/WiFi terminals for the home and enterprise. The report details and analyzes the market forces that are driving dual-mode service launches. It also assesses the capabilities of the first dual-mode handsets being bundled with these services and provides critical analysis of the overall value proposition from the end user's perspective.


The report analyzes the primary commercial, technological, and operational components needed to enable operators to meet user requirements. The primary focus is on the challenges required to make dual-mode voice tariffs succeed, but the drivers for the "all-cellular" alternative built around cellular pico or femto base stations for the home and office also is addressed at length.

Critical issues affecting the end-user experience are evaluated, including battery life, the user interface, and the availability of products at the low, middle, and high ends of the market. The market position of wireline carriers relative to mobile handset vendors is evaluated and contrasted with the strengths of mobile operators and wholly integrated fixed and mobile operators.

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The perspective of the different tiers of handset vendors is also provided, together with market positioning analyses covering 29 different technology vendors.


The readiness of large-scale WiFi networks to support large volumes of voice traffic generated by mobile handsets is assessed at length. The issues are tackled from the perspective of challenges in evolving existing hotspot business models, the WLAN infrastructure itself, the engineering and optimization aspects of large-scale WiFi networks, and the changes required in WiFi authentication regimes.

The technical and commercial challenges of leveraging WiFi hotspots globally to provide an alternative infrastructure for international mobile voice roaming are detailed. Options are also presented in the form of a series of profiles of some of the key players in the WiFi aggregation and systems integration space, such as iPass and Boingo Wireless. A profile is also provided of the efforts of Wayport and The Cloud to position themselves to support multiple new devices, such as dual mode handsets, on their 10,000+ network of hotspots throughout the U.S. and Northern Europe, respectively. These players are profiled as potential partners for carriers deploying dual-mode handsets.

The business case for the "all-cellular" alternative to leveraging WiFi in building is also considered, again taking into account issues of end-user requirements, the business models of mobile operators, and the technological challenges of developing pico or femto base stations for the home or office. We also examine in detail the world's first deployment of low-power GSM base stations for enterprises by Private Mobile Networks (PMN), a subsidiary of TeleWare. Lastly, the report analyzes the vendors that are active in supporting this key segment of the fixed/mobile convergence market, profiling their core value propositions, partnerships, and current market traction.

Report Scope and Structure

Wireless VOIP & the Future of Carrier Voice Services is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II considers the current drivers for carriers to offer dual-mode voice tariff bundles, including consumer preferences, technological availability, and competitive imperatives.

Section III details recent dual-mode cellular/WiFi service launches by six major operators in Europe and Asia/Pacific, including BT, Orange, and SingTel.

Sections IV analyzes the capabilities of available and planned dual-mode handsets from major manufacturers such as Nokia, including the role of collaborative industry initiatives such as the Fixed Mobile Convergence Alliance.

Section V explores the technical and commercial enhancements that are needed to make dual-mode voice services a success, including handset authentication, voice call continuity (VCC) handover, and the interoperability efforts of the MobileIgnite consortium.

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Section VI examines the ecosystem of WiFi hotspot operators, aggregators, and integrators - six of which are profiled here - that are available to partner with telecom operators to create dual-mode service propositions.

Section VII lays out an "all cellular" approach that may be an alternative to the use of WiFi in dual-mode propositions, encompassing the establishment of "home zones" and the deployment of "pico" and "femto" base stations.

Section VIII profiles 29 major vendors that are providing technology to support dual-mode voice services, in many cases examining their unique visions for the future of mobile VOIP and the ultimate goal of fixed/mobile convergence.

The report is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including the following:

Suppliers of dual-mode (cellular/WiFi) technologies and products: How will the ongoing shifts in operator voice service strategies affect your business? Where are the new opportunities for market growth? Are your products and marketing messages in line with carrier plans and expectations? Are there significant gaps in your product line coverage that need to be addressed to meet future demand for dual-mode voice solutions?
Wireline and wireless network operators: How do your plans for dual-mode voice service compare with those of your competitors? Which standards and products are likely to emerge as the winners in this sector? Which technology suppliers are in best position to deliver the products you need?
Investors: Which technologies are emerging as the winning solutions for dual-mode services, and which companies are the leading technology suppliers of those solutions? How will the confluence of VOIP and WiFi affect profitability for the telecom service sector in the coming months and years?

Wireless VOIP & the Future of Carrier Voice Services is published in PDF format.

PRICE: $3,795
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
Donegan has 16 years' experience as a telecom market journalist, analyst, and strategist. His in-depth knowledge of wireless technology...
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64 pages of analysis covering deployment of voice services based on dual-mode (cellular/802.11 WiFi) technologies
In-depth product and strategy analyses for 29 leading vendors and technology suppliers in the dual-mode wireless sector
Full analysis of the likely role of existing and emerging standards initiatives (UMA, 3GPP, IMS, SIP, FMC, 802.11, 802.1X, WISP-r, VCC) in the development of dual-mode wireless voice services
Information and analysis on the current status of carrier dual-mode service initiatives around the world
Up-to-the-minute information on dual-mode voice deployments by leading WiFi hotspot operators
PRICE: $3,795
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