Slow online talk
|September 15, 2005|
The lack of broadband penetration in South Africa will slow the use of online voice services by consumers and means network operators aren’t likely to see lower revenues as a result.
This is the view of BMI-Tech analyst Brian Nielson. He says there needs to be significant broadband penetration before online consumer voice services like Skype will make a big dent.
He uses the example of Australia, which also has low-ish broadband penetration. Neilson says the ratio of residential Voice over IP (VoIP) is still quite small compared to business VoIP in that country.
And, even if consumers in South Africa did increasingly start using such services, and the operators noticed a decline in revenue, they would no doubt act to lower rates in the specific segments or time slots being affected.
Skype users, for example, use the service for international calls, a small part of Telkom’s voice revenue. Neilson says most people that would use Skype are likely to already have started doing so. And services like Skype are not likely to be attractive to business users, as the service levels are not guaranteed.
The likely slow uptake of consumer VoIP in South Africa is in sharp contrast with the lightning-fast take-up being seen in the US. There, voice calls have become commoditised, and in some cases, are free.
The bid, earlier this week by eBay for Skype, like the move by companies like Google and Yahoo into voice offerings, illustrates the pervasiveness of consumer voice in a market like the US.