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What is the future of VoIP in the remote emerging telecom markets?

What is the future of VoIP in the remote emerging telecom markets?

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This can be a very broad question, depending on how you define remote emerging telecom markets. At a high level, though, the first thing to say is that emerging markets generally lack the telecom infrastructure that we take for granted in developed markets. Their SMB sectors are often fairly new, especially in economies that have only recently become open or less government regulated. These factors create promising opportunities for VoIP, especially because VoIP can be deployed in a variety of ways.

First and foremost, these markets typically lack legacy telephony services, so when businesses are ready for telephony, it will be easier to go straight to VoIP. There will not be any issues about whether VoIP is reliable enough or comparable to TDM. Adoption should be rapid, not just because it is an affordable form of telephony, but also because is it easier, faster and cheaper for carriers to deploy than legacy service. This will allow businesses to enjoy the benefits of VoIP right from the start rather than migrating gradually from TDM, as is typical in developed markets.

The second aspect in VoIP's favor is how far it has evolved in the past few years. Vendors, developers, carriers, channels and standards bodies are much more aligned today, making VoIP truly business-grade, either as a standalone service or integrated with other services. This makes VoIP more versatile than ever, and accessible for emerging markets. For some, VoIP will be attractive for basic telephony, and for others, it will be used more for advanced features such as visual voicemail or web-based conferencing. And yet for others, VoIP will be used with 2.0-style Web services that become more valuable when they are voice-enabled.

In terms of serving remote markets, VoIP may have the most to offer. Many emerging markets have large populations, and whether catering to consumers or businesses, wireless telephony will be the preferred route for most carriers. Wireless VoIP is gaining widespread adoption now, and in remote emerging markets, it will be the most economical way to provide telephony. In fact, we expect opportunity for wireless VoIP to be greater here than in developed markets, where mobile operators have less incentive to displace cellular services with lower cost VoIP.

This was first published in March 2009

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