Why Consumers May Not Benefit As Hoped From Mobile VoIP

Consumers these days are very cost conscious, and mobile VoIP seems like a great way to save money while still getting great phone service. Those who repeatedly run over their allotted minutes for a month may find switching to VoIP drops their monthly bill for mobile calling considerably. International callers also find VoIP to be a cost effective solution.

Although mobile VoIP at first seemed poised to threaten major mobile phone carriers, the likelihood of VoIP destroying the Goliaths of the telecom world is slim. VoIP may seem like a natural option to expensive mobile calling plans, but companies like AT&T and Verizon are fighting back.

The biggest VoIP contender, Skype, released a mobile application and the two major mobile vendors went on the offensive. Verizon started the wheeling and dealing by reaching an agreement with Skype to allow Verizon users to access the app from their phones – but there was a catch. Users must be signed up for a voice/data package in order to qualify for Skype access – which kind of defeats the purpose.

AT&T however is not showing their hand just yet – when Skype released an iPhone app that resulted in millions of downloads in the first week of its release, iPhone users were allowed to make and receive calls Skype to Skype calls free – and call PTSN numbers for a competitive price.

However, Skype has announced that while Skype to Skype and Skype over WiFi will remain free, at the end of 2010 Skype over 3G won’t be. How much it will cost is up in the air, but many believe that is when AT&T will make their move to regulate costs and recoup lost revenue.

With tiered data plan pricing and restrictive requirements to qualify for VoIP calling on mobile plans, the telecom giants may keep VoIP from being the hoped for ‘free phone service’ many had hoped for – at least until 3G supplants WiFi as the new ‘free everywhere’ network. At that point the mobile companies will have to find new ways to profit off of VoIP powered calling.

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