The Economist writes:
TELEPHONES, at least of the fixed-line variety, have been much the same for decades. Buttons replaced rotary dials; caller ID appeared; otherwise little has changed. But fixed-line phones are now about to be transformed, thanks to the internet. In a flurry of recent announcements, big telecoms firms in America have embraced a technology called voice over internet protocol (VoIP) as the future of mainstream telephony.
By plugging an ordinary phone into a broadband internet connection using a small adaptor box it is possible to make and receive calls in the usual way, though they are in fact being piped across the internet. That makes possible all sorts of new tricks: integration of voicemail with e-mail; global portability (the phone rings wherever it is in the world, provided it is plugged into a broadband link); web-based logging and billing. For conventional telecoms operators, this sounds like bad newsthe Napsterisation of telephony. But a tipping point has now been reached. As they cannot beat VoIP, they have chosen to embrace it.
Incumbent local network operators are in a tricky position. VoIP cannibalises their core businessconventional voice telephonybut, notes Blake Kirby, a telecoms analyst at Adventis, you’d rather have a VoIP customer than no customer at all. Hence the decisions by Verizon and Qwest to offer VoIP. It might even help them pick up new customers among cable-broadband subscribers. Britain’s incumbent, BT, has just launched a VoIP service for just this reason. As consumers do away with second lines for dial-up internet access in favour of broadband, says Dave Axam of BT, VoIP can provide a cheap alternative to a second line for use by teenagers.
the way forwardin which voice telephony is just another subscription-based internet service, delivered by a broadband linknow suddenly seems much clearer.
A couple more VoIP-related articles:
– David Isenberg: “Because while VoIP will
probably be good in the long run for the tech sector as a whole, VoIP will hasten the end of telephony-classic…This, then, is the story under the VoIP story that the mainstream press is missing — the telephone companies as we know them are, barring some extremely regressive
shenannigans, on their way out. This departure will not be linear or smooth — nothing that big and well established disappears without a struggle, or without unintended consequences. But the telcos won’t cross this chasm by sauntering out over the edge at their accustomed pace, and they don’t have the innovative muscle to make the jump.”
– Aswath: “The Telco-centric versions of VoIP they are peddling now are not the Internet-style VoIP that will ultimately develop.”
India too needs to leapfrog and embrace the VoIP future.