OTT VoIP subscribers to move towards 1bn in 2013, says Infonetics

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According to the latest snippet from Infonetics Research, the number of OTT VoIP subscribers is set to head near one billion by the end of 2013.

This was due to a huge spike in 2012, with figures going up 550% to over 640 million. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Skype – as well as Microsoft in general – accounted for 40% of this number.

Overall, over the top VoIP and voice over LTE (VoLTE) is predicted to become a $16bn market by 2017. According to the research report author, Stephane Teral, the VoLTE figure has been inflated by the adoption, and subsequent success, of South Korea-based SK Telecom.

It’s perhaps not surprising that these figures are all heading in the right direction – but what about the size of growth? In particular, how else is the OTT ecosystem developing aside from Skype?

Diane Myers, Infonetics principal VoIP analyst, notes: “The market is seeing other applications such as Fring, KakaoTalk, Line, Nimbuzz, WeChat and Viber gain in strength. But the fact remains that most OTT mVoIP providers are making very little money per user.

Myers added: “In 2012, the average revenue per user was a meagre US$7.13 annually. Since this alone is an unsustainable business model, most providers are turning to advertising, third party apps and wholesale arrangements with traditional operators.”

In other words, do OTT vendors need the larger base and pull of the big operators in order to succeed? Collaboration, as opposed to competition, is therefore key.

Freddie Kavanagh, VP applications solutions at Tektronix, noted that there would be a ‘significant’ amount of merger and acquisition activity from here on.

“This will help drive premium service offerings and revenue, and will also help ensure that OTT services minimise impact on the operator network infrastructure,” Kavanagh said. “These OTT services will be developed in closer collaboration with the operator.

“The operator’s access to network data and their billing relationship with customers should be leveraged to drive more personalised offerings and create trust and satisfaction,” he added.

Earlier this year, TelecomsTech published an Ovum thought piece detailing how it was important not to rush rollout of VoLTE from the operators’ perspective.

But what do you think? Find out more about LTE and OTT issues at Telecoms Tech World, in London on 26-27 November 2013.

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