Telecom Strategies and Trends
Despite the lack of uniformity in the implementation of the EC directive No. 531/2012 on the national levels across Eastern Europe, the implications of the regulation are already beginning to take effect, according to InfoCom’s recently published article on mobile voice traffic. In the longer-term, it should help streamline prices across borders to the benefit of consumers while fostering greater communication and competition across an integrated European market. However, this may come to some countries faster than in others due to the different pace at which it is being implemented. Whether it will eventually lead to a situation where roaming charges will be phased out altogether remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, as smartphones continue to become more common, the prospect of OTT services becoming more widespread to the detriment of mobile operators’ core voice services is expected to become likelier – as seen in Western Europe. The general economic downturn across the region as well as growing competition and price wars have also made OTT voice and messaging services more enticing to budget-conscious consumers. However, users are more likely to use OTT’s voice features when there is a reliable Internet connection, typically when connected to a WiFi via a fixed broadband connection. This suggests that OTT’s viability in at least some countries is likely to remain limited, although it may become evident sooner in markets such as in Slovenia and Poland that have a more widespread broadband coverage. In particular, the implementation of LTE may have a positive impact.