Acme Packet teams with CounterPath to take on Skype

Report: Skype eats into service providers' international telephony revenue

Session border controller (SBC) supplier Acme Packet (Nasdaq: APKTis teaming with VoIP software provider CounterPath (Nasdaq: CPAH) to enable service providers to offer branded over-the-top (OTT) VoIP services in order to compete with Skype and other OTT providers.

Based on Acme Packet's Net-Net session SBC and CounterPath's Bria mobile softphone, the joint product offers service providers the ability to provide customers with secure voice, video, instant messaging, presence and texting to mobile apps.

The product is the first to leverage Acme Packet's implementation of the emerging tunneled service control function standard, which provides an infrastructure-based alternative for OTT communications.

CounterPath's Bria mobile SIP-based softphone for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android devices integrates tunneling technology from Acme Packet that enables secure connectivity, improved firewall traversal and interoperability with Acme Packet's SBCs, the companies said.

With this new offering, "we can bury through firewalls, particularly strict firewalls that cause a lot of problems… We can reduce packet loss… And we can make sure that calls can transfer seamlessly from Wi-Fi to 4G and back again," Kris Hopkins, Acme Packet's vice president of strategic product management, told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.

"For businesspeople who are traveling, they won't have to incur large roaming charges for data while they are talking. They can dial in to conference calls with Wi-Fi and get crystal clear audio," Hopkins explained.

"We give a bundled solution to service providers that will perform better than Skype," added Todd Carothers, executive vice president of marketing and products at CounterPath. "That is going to give operators a competitive offering to take on Skype, Viber and others."

The need to take on Skype is growing as the Microsoft-owned (Nasdaq: MSFT) VoIP provider gains traction. According to the latest stats from TeleGeography, Skype is continuing to take market share away from traditional carriers, particularly in international calls.

Cross-border Skype-to-Skype voice and video traffic increased 44 percent last year to 167 billion minutes. TeleGeography said this increase is more than twice that achieved by all international carriers in the world combined.

"The pressure on carriers will continue to mount in the coming years. While Skype is the best-known voice application, a host of alternatives, including Google (Talk and Voice), WeChat (Weixin), Viber, Nimbuzz, Line, and KakaoTalk have gained popularity. Perhaps most ominously for telcos, Facebook recently added a free voice calling feature to its Messenger application," commented TeleGeography.

Stephan Beckert, an analyst with TeleGeography, told FierceEnterpriseCommunications that service providers are facing declining prices, especially in the international telephony business, so they have to rely on traffic growth to maintain revenues. "It is becoming harder to do that, thanks to fact that there are ever more alternatives to the PSTN these days," he said.

For more:
- see the Acme Packet-CounterPath release
- check out the TeleGeography stats

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