Because I started my professional life in the GSM industry, working from a very central position in a clearing-house, I have been watching the impacts of the web on the telecoms business with a lot of interest. Judging from my own choices as a consumer (and I do not suggest for a minute these reflect general trends, but then again I must be part of some segment of the market so it may not be that insignificant), I would bet that the impact of VoIP on the traditional telephony businesses is one of enormous substitution; here are a few facts:
- my telco bill is 80% lower today than it used to be before I started using Skype, while I am definitely spending more time speaking to people on "the phone";
- in my business I have been speaking Skype-to-Skype and chatting with customers and prospects instead of placing phone calls. In fact, less than 20% of my calls to prospects, customers and business partners are with a traditional phone (my accountant is not online yet, but I am working on it)
- when travelling abroad, I am now using my mobile phone for less than one call out of three, when a few years back there was no choice. In a recent trip to Luxembourg, I placed all my calls using Jajah with a cost advantage over roaming that I assess to be in the region of 85% to 90% (by the way roaming is a rip-off and it's good the Commission of the EU is working on it IMHO)
Today I came across the intetresting account of a study done in Japan that tends to show that Skype increases consumption of telecoms more than it is a substitute for traditional telco services. I agree with the author of the post that this study is probably missing something important. Indeed prospects are getting darker for traditional telco operators who will be under enormous pressure to review their business model and that heralds a big shake-up of the industry.