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Future of VoIP traffic in Russia and CIS at the top of voice

The 2nd International Conference Voice 2014 – Future of VoIP traffic in Russia & CIS. Transit & Retail organized by COMNEWS was held on November 28th at InfoSpace Event-hall. The conference was endorsed by Rossvyaz, Russian Association of Electronic Communications (RAEC), Association of Regional Telecom Operators (ARTO), International Academy of Communications, Information & Computer Technologies Industry Association (AP KIT), Moscow branch of PMI. Partner of the conference was Interregional TransitTelecom (МТТ).
The first session, dedicated to the future of VoIP in Russia and worldwide, was kicked off by Kirill Stepanenko, Head of RF and Communication Networks Regulation Department, Ministry of Telecommunications and Mass Media of Russia. He pointed out that intensive development of the Internet combined with the implementation of UMTS and LTE technologies have fuelled explosive growth of data traffic, but so far it hasn’t led to a similar increase in operators’ revenue. Therefore, the main growth driver for mobile operators will be the switch to IP technologies and implementation of IMS for voice services in new-generation mobile networks.

CEO of MTT Group Evgeny Vasilyev spoke about actual trends in the evolution and legal framework of VoIP services. According to him, unlike many other countries, in Russia VoIP hasn’t gone mainstream yet, and is still on the stage of migration of voice traffic to data networks, and OTT services still haven’t dented the steady market power of conventional communication services. Evgeny Vasilyev is convinced that VoIP-technologies will facilitate the government’s objectives in import substitution and implementation of TEEs (Trusted Execution Environments) through domestic development of software and services. That said, carrier operators and OTT providers will work out collaboration rules on their own, beyond the regulator, simply because they need it.

Partner at Ernst & Young (CIS) B.V. Yury Gedgafov presented an overview of challenges faced by VoIP operators in Russia and abroad.

Elena Gracheva, Viber’s PR Manager, explored the key trends in VoIP services on the example of Viber. According to her, Russia is on the Top-5 list of Viber’s regional markets in terms of app users (28 million), holding the third place behind India (32 million) and the U.S. (30 million). The company’s nearest plans include evolution of public chat functionality, audio and video messaging, and upgrade of voice and video services to HD quality.

Filippo Percario, Vice President of Carrier Services for Europe, IDT Global Ltd., suggested a new angle on OTT services: it’s not a threat, but an opportunity for the telecommunications market. According to him, it is important to realize that VoIP services create additional voice traffic, rather than stealing minutes from conventional telephony. In this context, operators should stop ignoring OTT-services as such and talk to their providers in order to devise mutually beneficial partnership schemes.

MegaFon’s Head of GR Nikita Danilov dedicated his report to approaches in OTT-services regulation. According to him, from consumer’s point of view VoIP is an alternative to telephony. And VoIP providers offer commercial services using carrier operators’ networks, and nevertheless, the Russian legislation still has no mention of them. Nikita Danilov is convinced that there needs to be a unified approach to regulation of carrier business and communications Internet services, based on the principles of network neutrality.

The session continued with a round table, dedicated to typical difficulties faced by Russian VoIP operators, and means to address them. Panelists discussed the timeframe for legalization of VoIP in Russia, along with the key barriers to the switch from conventional to IP telephony. Participants of the round table included: Global Telecom Markets Sales Director of British Telecom for Russia, CIS & Baltics Tigran Antonyan, MTT Group’s CEO Evgeny Vasilyev, Deputy Head of Transport and Communications Control Department of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia Elena Zaeva, CEO of Zebra Telecom Sergey Kudrin, and also Rostelecom’s Head of Product and Service Management Division Telecom Operators Department Sergey Makarov.

The practice-oriented part of the conference which started after lunch was dedicated to technological cases from VoIP business. Dmitry Agafonov, Head of Sales at Inoventica, showcased InvGUARD network defense system, which can be used to ensure operational continuity in VoIP networks. CEO of Eltex Communications Ivan Eremin spoke about how to build IP-telephony node from scratch on IP-PBX Eltex SMG-2016 made in Russia. And IPMatika’s Head of Technical Support Dmitry Balashov presented a cloud service – Yealink RPS – designed to ramp up VoIP-operators’ revenue and boost customer loyalty.

The conference concluded with a round table, dedicated to a new swing of competition between phone providers and voice IP services. One of the main questions on the agenda was the outlook for OTT players in the situation when voice services migrate to LTE and become free. According to Alexey Aylarov, CEO of Zingaya Inc., LTE delivers a number of advantages to the developers of OTT services and applications, so they are becoming even less dependent on old-generation telecom infrastructure. And the list of user devices supporting new standards and technologies, such as WebRTC, is also growing wider. Yaroslav Prokopovich, MTT’s Director of Development and Support Services Department, is convinced that mobile service providers’ migration to LTE supporting VoLTE will become another growth driver for VoIP, because VoLTE is nothing but a convenient transport for voice traffic, whereas OTT services have a lot more to offer than just ‘voice’. Namely, they procure subscriber base all around the world, offer user-friendly interface, they don’t depend on the type of Internet connection and communication channels, and also they can be easily integrated with business applications, such as CRM, and also with OSS/BSS-systems. Yaroslov Prokopovich predicts that by 2016, VoLTE will account for 14 percent of the market at most, while the remaining share will be held by OTT services. Other panelists of the round table included: Head of Instant Messaging of Mail.Ru Group Igor Ermakov, Rostelecom’s Head of Product and Service Management Division of Telecom Operators Department Sergey Makarov, Business Development Director at TeliaSonera International Carrier Russia Nadezhda Mikheeva, and Projects Director of Komkor (AKADO Telecom) Ekaterina Nikishkina.

Conference participants marked out that Voice 2014 has turned into an open and professional space to discuss topical issues of the voice market. More than 150 delegates attended the event organized by COMNEWS.


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