Think of it as yet another disruptable moment. Operator-billed mobile voice revenues will fall from $354 billion in 2018 to $197 billion by 2023, an average annual decline of 10 per cent. Very very unpleasant for incumbents.

The figures are found in a new study from Juniper Research.

The study, Mobile Voice: Operator Strategies & Vendor Opportunities 2018-2023, identified a series of new opportunities which collectively would enable operators to sustain, or even increase, service revenues.

1) 5G & AI Enabling New Business Models

Juniper identified 5G as critical for operators to slow declining voice revenues. It is expected that 5G connections will exceed 370 million by 2023; generating $88 billion in operator-billed revenues. This will be over 50 per cent of the anticipated voice revenue loss. It also argued that operators could generate additional revenue through support for new voice services; powered by technologies such as Google’s Duplex.

2) CPaaS (Communications Platforms-as-a-Service) Disruption

In order to capitalise on revenue streams for emerging voice services, Juniper advises that operators must adopt new ecosystems of converged technologies, including voice, messaging and digital assistants such as Alexa. It predicted that operators will facilitate this by supporting the CPaaS model, whereby central management of communication is offered via a single platform.

3) The VoLTE Opportunity

The research forecasts significant growth for OTT apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger. These apps will generate 15.7 trillion minutes of voice usage by 2023; equivalent to streaming 3.8 trillion music tracks.

In response, Juniper urged operators to rollout voice technologies that offer superior benefits and are easily integrated into this CPaaS approach, such as VoLTE (Voice over LTE). According to the report’s author: “The OTT ecosystem is fragmented and, as a result, is unable to offer the same level of reach as operators. In order to maximise OTTs shortfall in this area, operators must adopt the CPaaS approach to win back traffic, thus minimising future shortfall in revenues”.

Juniper forecasts that VoLTE users will exceed the OTT voice app users for the first time in 2020, a year earlier than previously anticipated.

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