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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

fring - Mobile VoIP partnership with Austrian mobile operator

I haven't got time today to discuss this in depth, but yesterday Mobile VoIP specialist fring announced a partnership with Austrian mobile operator Mobilkom, which operates under the A1 brand.

For those that are unaware, Austria is one of the most searing-hot advanced markets for 3G services, both to phones and PCs. Penetration and traffic levels are probably the highest in Europe, with some of the fiercest competition in terms of pricing and service provision.

3 Austria already partners with Skype, but uses the iSkoot "call-through" approach (ie a circuit call into a VoIP gateway), while the fring/Mobilkom arrangement is for "proper" wireless VoIP over 3G.

To my knowledge, this is one of the first VoIPo3G partnerships in Europe - and an important signal for the future. One of my conclusions in my report on VoIPo3G was that mobile operators should look to partner with 3rd-party VoIP specialists, in order to gain early experience (and leverage their software experience) in delivering packet voice on cellular networks.

I expect to see more deals of this type over the next 12 months, as MNOs start to switch from being VoIP-hostile, through VoIP-neutral, to being VoIP advocates, as they realise that the supposed threat of cannibalisation is actually illusory.

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