The ITU workshop The Future of Voice held on the 15th and 16th of January 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland looked, inter alia, at the voice traffic and revenue trends in the last fifteen years.
On the global level, local and national long-distance reported telephone minutes per capita were growing in the 1990s and stably falling since the beginning of the new decade. A notable exception of the general rule is the US experiencing continuous growth in the number of local minutes: in 15 years, the number of local minutes per capita has grown four-fold. The international outgoing traffic grew significantly over the last fifteen years: in the Republic of Korea, in 2005 it was 15 times more intensive than in 1990, in the US – five times. Even though, since the beginning of the new century, the international voice traffic tends to slowly decrease.
If we look at the global telecom revenue, we will see the stable global expansion of the sector over the whole period. Voice revenue as a percentage of the total remains stable, while the traffic generated by users has doubled. In 2004, as in 1991, voice constituted more than 80% of telecom revenue surpassing, by far, income from any other source. In the coming years, voice is expected to stay strong driven by falling prices and increasing volumes of traffic.
What are the drivers behind these trends? Enlarged number of users, competition and market liberalization, enhanced innovation and emerging alternative communication platforms, migration to all-IP environment or all of these and more? The dynamics of development of the telecom sector is driven today by multiple factors in an increasingly complex environment both in developed and developing countries. Pressures are forcing change at different levels – market, regulation, type of technology, framed by the shift towards the emerging global economy.
For more insights of the debate on the future of voice, see the complete presentation of Tim Kelly, Head and Jaroslaw Ponder, Policy Analyst of the Strategy & Policy Unit of ITU.
More presentations and background materials on the subject can be found at the Future of Voice website.