While ITSPs may face challenges delivering VoIP services in African and Middle Eastern telecom markets, the growing use of mobile in these regions and steady demand for low-cost international calling are creating opportunities for service providers with the right tools.

Widespread Mobile Use

In regions like Africa and the Middle East, mobile use has leapfrogged that of landlines. This is because mobile performs the same essential purpose as landline-based telephony yet requires less infrastructure—infrastructure, which is often lacking in many of these regions. Furthermore, mobile is more functional and flexible than is landline telephony. For these reasons…

  • Africa is home to more than 650 million mobile subscribers—more than the US or EU (World Bank)
  • The market penetration for mobile phones in the Middle East is 109% (Ericsson Mobility Report)

Demand for International Calling

According to the 2010 US census, more than 940,000 immigrants from Africa currently reside in the US. These people have friends, family and business associates in Africa with whom they want to stay in touch. Likewise, many in Africa would like to speak to their friends and relatives who have moved to the US. The same is true of the Middle East (and practically any source-region of diaspora or immigrant communities). In turn, US mobile users spent a whopping $37 billion on international calling last year, according to a recent Rebtel study.

Normal VoIP Services Difficult to Deploy

While a growing number of people have increasing access to mobile technology, traditional international calling is still prohibitively expensive and most VoIP services are hard to come by.

VoIP is difficult to find in these regions for usually at least one of two reasons: 1) It is restricted via regulations by governments in order to preserve telecom monopolies and consortiums; or 2) it is technically infeasible due to a lack of requisite technologies, such as WiFi and broadband Internet.

Still, in some areas, progress is being made. For instance…

  • 3G and LTE are now present in nine major African countries
  • South Africa, Nigeria and Gambia recently liberalized regulations on VoIP

You can read more about the state of VoIP in Africa here.

In other areas, however, VoIP has not made great headway: the UAE recently banned Skype, and Saudi Arabia did the same with Viber, for example. Still, VoIP service providers need not wait for governments to change their minds or requisite infrastructure and technology to spring up in order to capitalize on the demand for international calling.

Innovative VoIP Solutions Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Using various IPsmarx solutions, service providers can take advantage of the demand for international calling coupled with the now widespread use of mobile to deliver attractive cost-effective international calling to customers even in areas where VoIP is difficult to deploy:

The IPsmarx Callback Solution reclassifies outbound calls from your customer’s phone as inbound calls to their phone, allowing the end-user to make VoIP-based calls on their landline or mobile phones regardless of the state of VoIP in the end-user’s country.

The IPsmarx International Mobile Top Up Solution allows your customers to purchase mobile minutes and send it to friends and family to use on their mobile phones overseas—even if those friends and family live in areas where VoIP is otherwise difficult to use.

IPsmarx GSM VoIP Solutions enable service providers to install gateways in Africa so that they may establish their own termination route or origination for phone cards and PINless services

Want more information about the applications and benefits of IPsmarx solutions for your VoIP or prepaid telephony business? Contact us.

info (at) ipsmarx (dot) com


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