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iPhone 6 VoLTE Will Disrupt the Mobile Industry

As far back as 2011 we predicted that Apple would eventually enter the voice market. We indicated at that time that it was just a matter of time—in the end it took another three years.

This is an extract from our blog in 2011.

While Australia’s Telstra has seen a significant increase in mobile penetration during 2011 the long-term competition will come from outside the telco industry. At the beginning of the year we alluded to Apple’s interest in opening up the mobile call market by providing a chip that will allow customers to roam to different mobile networks, with cloud applications guiding customers to the best prices and so on. Such a move would again sidestep the mobile operators, in much the same way as the company sidestepped the operators’ mobile content portals when it launched the iPhone in 2007. An LTE-based iPhone 6 could be launched as early as Christmas 2011, and such a device could have all of those features embedded.

Will the telcos be ready this time?

While it didn’t happen at Christmas that year the company is now ready and will use the VoLTE service to enter this market, which will make it possible to replace Telstra with any other mobile operator around the world.

This will be the next major game-changer for the industry since the arrival of the iPhone in 2007. And I think my question, above, from 2011 will have to be answered in the negative. The telcos are not ready for this. While they should be seen as the leaders in the voice call market they are too preoccupied with protecting their traditional business and it is companies like Apple and Samsung who are now leading the charge.

It will certainly not be plain sailing. Apple’s proprietary software and the variations in the Android phones will create a number of headaches for the telco operator; interoperability will be another issue.

However, the telcos are ‘addicted’ to the iPhone and other smartphones and they can do little else but oblige. There will be a scrambling among these players to be the first to have the iPhone 6 on their list. To a large extent the burden of ensuring that smartphone apps such as VoLTE work will rest on the shoulders of the mobile operators.

As we also suggested back in 2011, Apple could negotiate deals with mobile operators, nationally and internationally, that could see a serious attack on the national and international roaming cartels.

Obviously it is not just voice that can be delivered over LTE. Expect many more X over LTE services to come from the Apple and Android application developers.

Apart from the voice disruption, these developments will also result in the need for more broadband capacity and, as we are already seeing, that doesn’t necessarily translate into higher revenues for the mobile operators. Developments such as LTE will send the operators back to the drawing board, looking for ways to cut costs in order to be able to keep up with these developments; and, as we have said on many occasions, this will result in the need for structural changes to the operation of mobile infrastructure.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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