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Should Wireless Carriers Offer Mobile VoIP?

We have a story out today detailing various start-ups?efforts to offer mobile Voice over Internet Protocol services, which allow cell phone users to make cheap calls over the Internet. Web-calling expert Andy Abramson made an interesting comment on the story: He thinks that wireless service providers may soon wish to offer their own versions of mobile VoIP services.

At first glance, his argument doesn’t make sense: After all, mobile VoIP services will arguably cut into the carriers’ long-distance and international calling revenues. Why would the carriers want to cannibalize their own business? But look at it this way: Unless the carriers jump into mobile VoIP, soon, someone else — start-ups like Truphone and Jajah — will grab their subscribers. So won’t it be better to offer cheap international calling and retain the users and at least some of that revenue?

One reason why Verizon and AT&T are bleeding residential home lines today is, they’d waited too long to come out with their own home phone VoIP offerings. By the time AT&T unveiled CallVantage, VoIP competitors like Comcast have been signing up AT&T’s subscribers by the thousand. CallVantage — a great service, by the way — got lost in the shuffle. Abramson recently wrote that CallVantage appears to have stopped accepting new subscribers.

Wireless carriers had better not make the same mistake.

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