VoIP Extension Strategies – Closed Gardens

July 22, 2004

in VoIP

Verizon announced a move today into the VoIP market. Accelerating towards VoIP by major carriers is now inevitable, however this move lacks the innovative edge of British Telecom’s move with Yahoo last week. That move is easy to communicate. Remember you had your first phone, then you got a bedroom extension! Now you can take it with you on your laptop on vacation etc.

When I first saw the BT announcement my response was not the one reflected in this article which suggests it is wrong to charge consumers landline prices for VoIP connections. Actually this is a perfect transition strategy and I expect many more to follow it. The key reason it will work is consumers don’t want to change their telephone numbers. If you don’t believe how difficult it is read Rich Tehrani’s tirade on Vonage in this months Internet Telephony Magazine. His experience is not his alone. While AT&T have plenty of numbers the majority of the ITSP’s (Internet Telephony Service Providers) can only provide limited area codes. This will be a topic for another day.

A partnership with Yahoo will let BT users make phone calls from their PC, but with no price advantage over existing UK tariffs

The service, called BT Communicator with Yahoo Messenger, combines voice over IP (VoIP) technology with Yahoo’s instant messenger service. BT says it will let users handle various communication methods, such as phone calls, Webcams, text messaging and IM, from their PCs through a single application. BT also said that it expects to add the ability to make multi-way video calls next year.
BT launches consumer VoIP with landline pricing – ZDNet UK News

The point missing in the BT announcement is the “closed garden” reality of the Yahoo/Communicator offering to consumers. While I’ve heard complaints about Skype’s lack of SIP interconnectivity here we have a brazen large carrier consumer play applying the same tricks. We’ll need a more open interconnect strategy if VoIP is to reach it full potential.

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