Having come from hearing the Senior VP of Technology speak to us a few days ago, it hit me; in the IP world, voice is just an application.
People crow how VoIP first-movers such as Vonage and Primus TalkBroadband are going to be the “Bell killers”. That isn’t the point.
The thinking has always been that a POTS customer is a more profitable one. Wrong. If you don’t provide a more valuable service, you will lose your customers. POTS and long distance were great cash cows, but they’ve become commoditized. The real money lies in providing enhanced services via the IP infrastructure.
Salon’s article, Triumph of the telcos, is just stating the obvious. At least the telcos in Canada are not standing idly by; they’ve spent the last five years developing QoS-enabled IP networks to support a variety of IP applications – and in real-time if needed. In Bell Canada, for example, is harnessing Cisco’s MPLS technology and Nortel’s softswitch expertise for their Next Generation Network initiative.
This is a serious ocean-boiling maneuvre. Remember, it’s not a disruptive technology if everyone’s in on it. Bell will still be making money, both on the wholesale and retail sides.
Om Malik downplays the telco’s mettle, stating a price war is imminent. That’s true: The first-movers currently offer a crude VoIP over broadband arrangement that offers no guarantee of service, nor service during blackouts. They have decided to compete on price instead; Primus’s offering is a roughly $3 to $5 less per month than the ol’ trusty rusty PSTN.
But voice is just an ever-shrinking piece of the pie. Can you imagine checking your home voicemail from a wireless PDA, or receiving Caller ID on your television? How about having phone, Internet and TV services streamed to your home from a single Ethernet jack? That is the future. That is what Canadian telcos are striving for.