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Verizon’s CTO has been talking about the potential of deploying voice over IP over cellular, once Verizon deploys a 1xEV-DO network: Some significant changes in the way that VoIP is done will have to be made in order for that to make sense. I spoke recently with Dave Williams, the CTO of O2, about HSDPA, the high-speed upgrade the GSM operators are implementing and I asked him what he thought of delivering VoIP over HSDPA. “I’m not such a big fan of it yet,” he said. Currently, 3G operators can deliver voice in the equivalent of 12 Kbps of bandwidth. Voice over IP over WLAN (or over wireline really) uses as much as 128 Kbps, or as little as 24 Kbps. That means 3G is a more efficient use of spectrum for delivering voice than voice over IP. “For the short term it won’t be comparative to 3G voice but in the long term when the codec improves, who knows,” said Williams. So unless Verizon is working on some super way to deliver voice over IP, it doesn’t seem to make much sense, at least in the near term, to use its data network for voice.
Offering voice over IP over cellular isn’t a way to combat any potential losses the cellular guys might experience as a result of potential voice over Wi-Fi offerings. The only reason to offer voice over IP over cellular would be because it could offer a way for the operators to deliver voice cheaply. The voice over Wi-Fi or voice over WiMax solutions would be threatening to the cellular operators on the basis of portability or mobility and lower costs, not based merely on the fact that they use voice over IP technology.