Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Customers' owned Network

To foresee the different outcome and evolution of VoIP we must consider three different scenarios.

1) Evolution of the actual system. Softphone, IP phone, Gateway connecting the Internet line to a PBX or normal telephones. Free IP to IP calls, rates per minute or flat rates for termination.

This is the existing model in which an Internet provider or VoIP telephone company, (Skype, Vonage, Lingo...) more or less copies the business model of the existing Telecoms and provides alternative telephone services at lower cost, using the Internet for long distance and the local PSTN for last mile (local) delivery of voice.

The competition is getting tough, the number of customers is growing slowly, the quality of the calls is directly chained to the cost of the service.
The less you pay, the less you have.
In this way VoIP potential is highly underused, the chances of getting a good quality alternative service are getting narrower and proportionally decreasing together with the cost of the call.

The chances that VoIP will fast grow are daily fewer, also because VoIP itself is NOT a Mass market product.
The actual providers fail to understand that the fight is NOT on prices, but ON Services.
For an enterprise could be more convenient having a higher quality/cost VoIP service that would allow it to use only one line (convergence of both data and voice line) than having a cheap and low quality VoIP service that would oblige it to keep the voice line for quality reasons.

2) The business model of the VoIP providers changes.
Higher cost calls, but more and better services.

Actually VoIP is more a niche market than a mass market, even though the niche is of considerable proportions.
Since for its nature VoIP is mostly competitive on pricing on international and intercontinental calls, the priority usage is on the enterprise's side.
Private people tend to have mostly the need to call locally or nationally, service usually provided by Telecoms at good prices and very often at a flat rate.

The need for quality is higher.
And the need for new applications will be the successful spring of this new technology.
When a new product is offered to the market and aims to be competitive with the existing ones either is offered to a lower price or promises and delivers better features.
This is exactly the case of VoIP.
Using the Data line not only means lower cost, but also more power.
Instead of a simple device like a telephone at both end of the data line we can have two sophisticated hardware, completely programmable and able to deliver unlimited features.

3) Customers' owned network.

This scenario will be the natural evolution of the second one.
It will give quality and in the meantime it will be competitive to the first one, because it will offer "free termination" to any call.
It will make possible to the user to exchange his last mile with anyone's in the world, transforming any international and intercontinental call in a local call at cost Zero.

The world will be a big Network in which any user will be connected to the Net and use any other network member's local telephone line.

It will be a real P2P VoIP network in which everybody will share minutes instead of files.
And the infrastructures will be very cheap and easy to build.

Every enterprise will need:

1) A connection to the Net
2) A connection to the local telecom
3) A gateway to connect the Net to the PSTN line and his telephones.

He can use his gateway for his VoIP and let the other members to use his PSTN line through it.
He will share as many lines as he decides to as well as many minutes.

The following step could be to connect our Wireless base station and using a wireless phone (5KM. coverage) connected both to the PSTN and Internet line.

In a future hopefully not so far away, we will have most of the calls as IP to IP, but the third scenario will highly accelerate VoIP towards this.
A good and very cheap mean of communication will open the door to always new and alluring features.

Patrizia from a World on IP
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