Sunday, August 05, 2007

VOIP takes to the Skies?

eMarketer reports figures from the Yankee Group which estimates that 9% of all US households subscribed to VoIP (voice over internet) services in 2006, up from 4% in 2005. The number of VoIP subscribers in the US grew 125% in 2006 and now is around 9m. The report forecasts that the VoIP market will continue to grow significantly over the next few years.

This in turn leads us to question the roll of the mobile phone and the carrier services. Today I use Skype over my mobile phone and although there are limitations over the PC application phoning and receiving calls to international numbers has never been cheaper.

Its no longer a case of why we should be on Skype by why anyone shouldn’t be on it?

Now comes news that American Airlines Inc. will test in-flight Wi-Fi services across the U.S. starting next year. Other airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Southwest Airlines and Qantas are all reported to be planning to test similar in-flight technology. Passengers on American flights would soon be able to e-mail and surf the Web from laptops and handheld devices while primarily on transcontinental routes.

Two questions remain unanswered - the cost, we all know that airlines are not good at costing such services to their captive customers and whether they would allow VOIP services as voice calls in-flight may ‘disturb other passengers nearby’.

It appears we will be connected whereever we are.