Broadband Growth and Regulatory Relief boost VoIP prospects in Africa & Middle East

As regulators in Africa and the Middle East eliminate barriers in liberalized markets, VoIP opportunities emerge as lines are expected to more than triple from 2010 to 2015, growing at an outstanding CAGR of more than 28 percent, according to a new report from Pyramid Research.

"Pyramid projects VoIP lines to generate revenue of more than $1.1 billion in 2010," says Hussam Barhoush, Senior Analyst at Pyramid. "This growth of VoIP subscriptions, coupled with the high demand for cheaper international calling rates as well as regulators issuing more lenient rules toward VoIP as a service, will accelerate VoIP revenue prospects. Pyramid Research projects VoIP revenue in the AME region to reach $2.77 billion in 2015."

The control of fixed operator monopolies over their markets ends as the market is liberalized and additional fixed licenses are introduced to the market. "The process of liberalization in several markets has allowed new entrants to launch VoIP services using new technologies, such as WiMax. In Oman and Jordan, new WiMax operators have recently launched VoIP services," Barhoush explains.

The growth of broadband infrastructure and broadband users will steer the growth of VoIP services in the AME region. In 2010, broadband revenue will reach a total of $9.56 billion. This will grow to more than $20 billion in 2015. As regulators consider the implementation of VoIP rules and regulations, Pyramid Research believes that the percentage of broadband lines that will carry voice will grow dramatically.

Africa and the Middle East (AME) - encompassing Africa, the Gulf, the Levant, Iran and Turkey - has the lowest adoption of VoIP in the world, despite demand for VoIP services, especially cheaper international calls. The low adoption rate is primarily due to government regulations that prevent operators from offering some or even all types of VoIP services. In some countries, such as the UAE, the restrictions on VoIP include a ban on VoIP traffic from websites such as Skype.

By the end of 2010, there were 4.8m VoIP subscriptions in the AME region. Although the overall adoption of VoIP in the AME region will remain lower than in other regions through the forecast period, Pyramid Research projects that AME VoIP subscribers will total about 16.5m by the end of 2015 a growth rate that will outpace all other regions.

VoIP has become a major concern in the region, both for monopoly providers trying to maintain their control of the fixed market as well as for regulators trying to level the playing field while promoting market development, competition and access. There is a direct relationship between monopoly fixed-line markets and the prohibition of the VoIP telephony services to the public.

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