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Friday, November 11, 2005

International roaming and VoIP

Does anyone know what proportion of carriers' international roaming calls is accounted for by long, outbound calls? It strikes me that it's probably quite high - business people phoning into conference calls, ringing back to head office or to clients - or even tourists phoning home.

I think this section is uniquely vulnerable to PC-based VoIP substitution, unlike inbound calls transferred to the user, quick outbound calls for voicemail and so on.

At a conference the other day, a substantial section of the audience (admittedly attending a Mobile VoIP event) had been using Skype or some other form of VoIP over in-room broadband or hotel WiFi whilst they had been there.

I did myself - I had to have a 30min+ conference call with someone in the US, while I was myself roaming in Belgium. Given a choice between my mobile, the hotel phone, or the (relatively painful) €20 WiFi charge + pennies on SkypeOut, it was no contest.

Add in the fact that the timing of the call is often known in advance, the user (especially a business traveller) will likely have a PC anyway, the desirability of having web access to Google or a client's website while on the phone, and the ergonomics of a headset, and it's a bit of a no-brainer.

What's not clear to me is just how much of a typical carrier's voice roaming falls into this category - but I suspect it's a pretty sizeable chunk.

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