Voice over IP (VoIP) has become one of the most popular modern technologies when it comes to communication at all levels. The rapid increase in global internet penetration has led to a significant rise in popularity of VoIP amongst both consumers and businesses, and the fact that significant cost savings are to be had with this technology is the icing on the cake.
WiFi networks have become so common in homes, businesses and public places, that people have become accustomed to using free applications such as Skype to connect with friends, family and colleagues. Freely available apps such as Viber and WeChat have also made their way into the mainstream, and Juniper Research forecasts that one billion people will be using VoIP services by way of their free smartphone applications by 2017. Smartphone and tablet penetration are at all time highs; more of the world’s population is now truly mobile and prefers to be that way.
The natural question now is: what is next for VoIP technology?
The next logical step for this technology is to go truly mobile. Currently, if a user makes a call on their home or office WiFi network, using a VoIP service or application, they cannot leave the building and continue this call without interruption. This is where the prospect of truly mobile VoIP comes into play. Under this technology, a user can roam wherever they please without having their call disconnected or dropping out. This requires an advanced network infrastructure that can securely hand over calls between WiFi and cellular networks.
The network handover issues are likely to be one of the biggest barriers to a consistent mobile VoIP environment, as telecommunications companies will need to ensure their networks are interworking. Some companies have already started working on larger-scale integration solutions and this is a real sign that this is indeed likely to be the future of VoIP and in fact, communication in general. Higher education institutions and financial services companies are some of those that have already begun working on deploying mobile VoIP solutions within their grounds and premises.
With changes such as these taking place in the telecommunications landscape, mobile and data plans will surely need to adapt. Data-only plans are becoming more common as consumers realise that they don’t need to pay for traditional minutes. Some phone companies are considering whether (or how) they can still charge for VoIP minutes.
With so many advantages to VoIP and its rapid growth and take up, there is one key concern that relates to its practical adoption. This is the topic of security, as calls made or handed off to a public cellular network cannot necessarily be guaranteed as being safe from malicious activity. However, businesses and telecommunications companies are aware of this and will no doubt develop an appropriate solution as this technology finds itself in the mainstream.
With VoIP having become such an integral part of our daily lives, the barriers to consumer entry are falling quickly and widespread adoption will only continue.