VoIP 2.0 Gets Closer
By RICH TEHRANI
TMCnet Technology Analysis Columnist
To me the most amazing change in the competitive landscape since I decided to launch Internet Telephony Magazine in 1997 is the mainstreaming of VoIP by major players in the market. Back then, my parent company, TMC, applied for the registered trademark on the term Internet Telephony and indeed now owns this mark.
After enduring a terrible tech and telecom downturn, now every day there are more stories about how VoIP is being adopted by this company or that. And we are talking about the top technology companies like Microsoft, AOL and Google.
Even computer companies are getting into the mix. For example Sony Ericsson is touting a new headset, the HBH-608, and its ability to work with a Sony VAIO notebook allows users to make VoIP calls with the bluetooth headset.
Every company is trying to ride on the coattails of VoIP and to me it’s amazing. This leads me to believe for sure that the future of VoIP is VoIP 2.0
, where we focus more on services and not on cut-rate pricing. This is now an inevitability, not a hypothesis. Google, Microsoft and Skype are software companies providing primarily a free service. Where do they have to go but to add more features and new services? That is the holy grail of VoIP and these behemoths will get us there faster.
VoIP 2.0 is the evolution of VoIP and it will allow everyone to take advantage of more flexibility, more customization and more powerful features. Conferencing and do not disturb functions are simple services that we have today. I expect widespread adoption of other services that allow a caller to dial a single number and be connected to a workgroup instantaneously. This workgroup can be anywhere and will be connected by cell phone, land line or VoIP.
In addition, the ability to launch immediate collaborative conferences from a phone call is something people would give a body part for and lo and behold, VoIP companies are beginning to provide this functionality. I lump these productivity-boosting, time-saving applications into the category of Just In Time Communications (JITC). I don’t believe real-time communications is what the world needs. We need communications that allows users to take control of calls and to be disturbed when necessary, not when the caller feels like calling. That is the true benefit of JITC.
For the first hundred years of telecom, we were bound by hardware. Now communications is software-based and that is where it gets so absolutely exciting, as developing applications to improve telephony is a great deal easier than developing new hardware.
Software like Skype was made possible because today’s PCs are powerful enough and today’s broadband networks have enough bandwidth to allow us to have truly high-quality VoIP calls without additional hardware. In Skype’s case, these calls are free.
Which, of course, leads to the next phase of VoIP. A company like Skype has started to embark upon offering services to generate revenue. Making calls to the PSTN, for example, is a simple way for Skype to generate cash, but the easy revenue is now being collected. The next phase is getting some really compelling killer applications on their network and charging for them. People will pay for services that make them more productive and efficient.
Of course, VoIP 2.0 is the theme of Internet Telephony Conference & Expo this October 24-27, 2005, in Los Angeles. The whole show revolves around this concept. We are no longer bound by the shackles of traditional telecom and as an industry we are ready to boldly go into the world of VoIP 2.0 and become more productive, efficient and profitable. I look forward to guiding you through this new world.
Rich Tehrani is President and Editor in Chief at TMC.
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