We expect to see a significant increase in the number of operators in Africa rolling out VoIP services during 2014 as fibre continues to creep inland and the reliability, QoS and CAPEX issues previously associated with VoIP have all been resolved by vendors and operators working together.
Carriers in Africa have been slow to adopt VoIP technology because the technology to interconnect a VoIP link onto a terrestrial network has been expensive.
The switches used were adapted from traditional voice switches by the large vendors – Ericsson, ZTE, Huawei etc - and consequently are huge, expensive and require a lot of maintenance which of course affects the bottom line. Moreover they do not use the optimum compression techniques for VoIP.
Fortunately, smaller more cost-effective switches are now available which enable operators in Africa to cost-effectively set-up and manage a VoIP network.
For the people and businesses of Africa, 2014 will be the year that VoIP finally provides welcome relief from expensive satellite and terrestrial calls.
Leigh Smith is the MD of World Telecom Labs.