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VoIP Feature Article


Rich Tehrani

[November 5, 2004]

Will VoIP Dig Fixed Lines Grave?

By Johanne Torres

This morning, just like any other, I first checked the weather on my WeatherBug icon, checked my e-mail, and then immersed myself in the results page of my news wire filter. It was that last step that really made me think: maybe I really did pick the right industry to be in after all...

As I went through this mornings headlines: SBC may trim thousands of jobs, analyst says, MCI upbeat despite $3.4bn loss, The Cingular/AT&T Wireless deal is closed, VoIP cuts into land lines it hit me, what in the world is going on with telecoms? What will the future bring for land lines? Are fixed lines becoming an endangered species?

Then I started to get flashbacksI remembered my dad in his brown and orange uniform, he was one of those guys who climbed telephone poles and installed phone jacks in peoples homes, back then when the telephone company was just another government agency of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It all changed now, Verizon moved into the island, bought the phone company from the government, and as for my dad, well, now he wears suits, as the big shot exec, he now has catered lunch with the gringos.

I tried to explain VoIP to my dad, but in my efforts I learned, it turns out that he ended tutoring me on the subject. It is amazing to me how VoIP changed corporations business plans so drastically. We are talking about companies serving the consumer market for a century, moving on with new technologies such as VoIP and serving the corporate market, like AT&T and post-bankruptcy MCI. AT&T's roots stretch back to 1875. During the 19th century, AT&T became the parent company of the Bell System, The American telephone monopoly. New technology changed the Ma Bell forever. The company recently announced it was pulling the plug on the consumer market it served for more than a hundred years.

Cellular and VoIP networks are revolutionizing the way we communicate at lightning speeds. I have to confess that I have not had a fixed landline for four years now. It all began when I started receiving astronomical long distance bills. I decided to toss my clunky phone and answering machine and switch to a cellular minute plan. Now, I cannot wait until I get my VoIP-enabled softphone and save even more. Many of us thought VoIP was all hype, but then as I see more and more news headlines in my filtered results and I am convinced otherwise.

The technology has been debated from state to state, all the way to the FCC, even by the presidential candidates during this years election. Empowered by broadband, VoIP has made companies unite, argue and plainly invest a lot of money to make networks better. According to a recent research conducted by Merrill Lynch, With regard to broadband, Verizon and SBC have already started positioning their plans as bringing broadband to America, creating jobs, purchasing equipment, etc. Importantly, Verizon is starting to spend. SBC will further outline plans on November 11th. Therefore, in our view, Verizon and SBC are creating a political hurdle to changing the recently ordered more limited obligations for the unbundling of new fiber networks.

As the headlines continue to amaze me every morning, companies will continue to steadily invest in technologies like VoIP. Hopefully, Vonages recent announcement of plans to hire more than 600 plus people to fill a variety of positions within the next 6 months will be copied by many others, putting an end to the struggle that followed the 9/11 nightmare.

Johanne Torres is the contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at jtorres@tmcnet.com


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