VOIP

Alternative telcos outline battle strategy

Read time 2min 10sec

Rapidly changing regulations and legislation in the local telecoms landscape are doing much to enable competition, as alternative telcos gear up to steal market share from the incumbents.

Speaking at the recent Voice SA Conference, Douglas Reed, group MD of Vox Telecom, encouraged players to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

“There are more opportunities for alternative providers now than ever before. The market is highly unpredictable, and the incumbents are slow to adjust," he stated.

Other speakers at the event echoed this statement, arguing that evolving communications technology would be a catalyst for competition in the industry.

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Cloud computing was cited by Rob Lith, director of Connection Telecom, as a catalyst for growth.

"VOIP providers currently only account for 10% of telco industry spend. Cloud computing is a driving force that will shake up the hosted telephony market, as more companies become more comfortable with this technology paradigm," he predicted.

Wayne Speechly, GM of voice solutions at IS, argued that although historically VOIP has earned a bad reputation for sub-standard call quality, it is now a thing of the past, as technologies like HD voice and video calling begin to gain traction and show true potential.

Both speakers identified the GSM market as a strong growth agent for alternative telcos. "With as much as 60% of the telco market currently controlled by GSM operators, this sector is of particular interest to the alternative telcos," noted Lith.

Speechly reiterated the point, commenting on the impact of fixed-mobile convergence: "The costs associated with the monopolies run by the major mobile operators will be circumvented by VOIP over WiFi technologies and fixed-mobile converged networks. This is already happening."

Shuttleworth Foundation fellow Steve Song outlined his vision of the “Village Telco” - a localised, low-cost, self-installed network built on WiFi technology that can be used in communities where communication need not cover larger distances.

"In Africa, among the bottom 75% of earners, approximately 50% of disposable income is spent on mobile services. Using a simple, low-cost device, communities can build their own networks to significantly reduce the cost of telecommunications.

“Localised GSM traffic is as high as 60% in some instances - this could all be potentially accounted for by self-built networks in the future," concluded Song.

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