Mobile VoIP may be the killer app. With rising costs of mobile phone calling plans, the proliferation of non-phone portable devices, the disconnection of landlines, and the ubiquity of WiFi access, it’s no surprise the people are moving to mobile VoIP solutions as an inexpensive alternative to traditional landline phones and mobile carrier calling plans.
VoIP or Voice over IP is the technology that enables voice communications over data connections. VoIP became popular as an alternative to PBX system for business networks. However, VoIP quickly spread as a viable option for home phone replacements. Many broadband Internet providers have bundled VoIP services with Internet connectivity. Surprisingly, even traditional telephone companies offering DSL based Internet access have offered VoIP services instead of a traditional landline solution. VoIP has many benefits in both cost and security. VoIP services usually completely bypass the complexities of regional and long distance telephone regulations and thus enable inexpensive phone call like services to both local and long distance and even international destinations for free or just pennies per minute. VoIP often provides greater security through the ability to encrypt the conversation. However, VoIP security is not guaranteed and is only supported between compatible VoIP endpoints (i.e. VoIP calls to traditional landline numbers are not encrypted).
With the relatively recent popular adoption of smart phones, most mobile providers were reluctant to allow VoIP services on their devices or through their network. Some of this was initially due to the fact that those early 3G networks were not well suited to the additional traffic load that VoIP could allow. But mobile providers were concerned that VoIP solutions would reduce their profits as customers would not need to purchase large blocks of minutes and instead could use VoIP potentially for free outside of their control. Many of the now-popular VoIP solutions were either blocked on mobile provider controlled devices or their traffic was filtered or slowed across their networks to discourage their use.
However, this mindset of the mobile carriers seems to have changed. As we progress into networks which are primarily designed around data rather than voice, carriers are beginning to encourage the use of VoIP services. While this will reduce voice minute purchases, it may increase data costs for customers. There are still some limitations on some carriers that only allow specific VoIP services or block VoIP use based on certain data plans. But in spite of some of the hold-outs or seemingly arbitrary limitations, mobile VoIP is growing steadily and may prove to be an essential function of your current or future mobile device.