The number of mobile VOIP minutes that will be carried on 3G and 4G networks every year will double annually over the next five years, according to Juniper Research, which will be a boon to such companies as Skype and Nimbuzz.
In a report issued July 1, Juniper analysts said the annual mobile VOIP (voice over IP) minutes will grow from 15 billion this year to 470.6 billion by 2015.
The growth will be particularly strong in developed markets, thanks to the steady rise of 3G networks, according to Juniper.
The firm's numbers back up similar findings it had in May, when the analysts said they expect the number of mobile VOIP users to exceed 100 million by 2012.
While the mobile VOIP companies such as Skype, which carry their services over WiFi networks, will be the key beneficiaries, traditional mobile carriers will feel the impact, the research firm said.
"There are several [flavors] of mobile VOIP," Juniper analyst Anthony Cox said in a statement, adding that traditional operators fear losing traffic to WiFi networks most. "WiFi mobile VOIP is potentially the most damaging of all VOIP traffic, as it bypasses the mobile networks altogether. We forecast that mobile VOIP over WiFi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015."
Eventually, the traditional carriers-due to competitive and regulatory pressures-in developed markets will end up creating alliances with the mobile VOIP companies, the analysts said.
Juniper's Cox noted that Skype launching its mobile VOIP services over 3G networks and its deal earlier this year with Verizon is an indication of how much attention mobile operators are giving to the issue of mobile VOIP.
Other analyst firms also have noted the rapid rise in mobile VOIP, and the need for traditional carriers to get on board.
Frost & Sullivan analysts in May said that about $605.8 million in mobile VOIP revenues was generated in 2008 in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, and that revenues will climb to $29.57 billion by 2015.
That was due in large part to the rise of flat-rate mobile data pricing, the rise of smartphone sales and the growing availability of high-speed mobile broadband, according to the firm.
Frost & Sullivan noted that larger mobile phone operators are trying to discourage the trend to stem the negative impact on their circuit-switched voice revenues. However, the analysts said the larger operators instead must embrace the trend.