Study: Mobile VoIP users will top 100M by 2012

A new report from Juniper Research predicts strong uptake of mobile VoIP in developed countries, such as the United States, because of the likelihood that traditional mobile operators will form relationships with mobile VoIP players such as Skype. In fact, the research firm estimates that mobile VoIP users will top 100 million by 2012 thanks to VoIP running over both 3G and WiFi networks.

The company points to Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) alliance with Skype as an example of what is to come.  Earlier this year Verizon Wireless and Skype launched a custom Skype Mobile application for Verizon smartphones. The application is free and available for smartphone users with an existing voice and data plan; it allows users to place Skype calls for no additional charge.

The research firm also said that revenues from circuit-switched voice will continue to diminish over the next five years. This conclusion correlates well with comments made yesterday by Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam at an investor conference in New York. McAdam said he expects that by 2012 much of the carrier's voice traffic will be handled by VoIP over LTE, and not the circuit-switched network.

Meanwhile, Verizon rival AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has been criticized for preventing VoIP iPhone applications from running on its 3G network. However, the carrier relented on the topic last year, thereby paving the way for Skype's iPhone app to transmit low-cost calls across AT&T's cellular network (previously, only WiFi connections could carry iPhone VoIP calls).

The Juniper report also predicts that a large percent of mobile VoIP will be carried over WiFi networks. In fact,  the firm estimates that mobile operators could lose up to $5 billion in voice revenue by 2015 from mobile VoIP calls being delivered over WiFi.  

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