IP is lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go…
Who am I kidding?
I just returned from a jaunt through beautiful New England, making a number of stops along the road to speak with industry players in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Leave it to me to go visit friends on the Cape in December. Maybe it’s just my conscience keeping me away from the temptations of Cape Cod in July or August. In any event nearly five inches of snow fell on Eastern Cape Cod during my visit. I was spared, but who needs that kind of weather lurking just around the bend?
While on the Cape, I had a chance to visit with Excel Switching. Excel was acquired by Lucent Technologies a few years back, and was spun back out of Lucent in June of 2003. Since then, Excel has reevaluated their position, formulated a plan, and is now excited about building momentum as they head into 2005. The company is doing some exciting things in the service provider space, and is busily promoting and expanding on their “Any-Gen” line of carrier-class service development platforms with advanced graphical service creation and management tools. Watch for the company to make overtures to the enterprise market by mid year.
A few miles onto the mainland, I stopped by to speak with Richard Koch, CEO of RNKVoIP, a division of parent RNK Telecom and a thriving CLEC serving multiple areas in New England, New York, and several other locations on the East coast. RNKVoIP recently unveiled a revolutionary new plan offering consumers a lifetime of unlimited phone service for a one-time cost of $999. RNK’s Phone for Life plans will initially be available in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island, and come with a 60-day, money back pledge.
I had my reservations when I first heard of the Phone for Life plan, but after speaking with Koch, and getting a glimpse of RNK’s vision, I’m fast becoming a fan of the idea. Apparently, according to Koch, so are a lot of people. He told me that subscriptions to the service are coming in fast and furious.
Subscribers to the RNK VoIP service enjoy unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada, as well as 20 other countries and 21 additional international cities. The service will pay for itself in just under three years when compared to the $29.99 average cost of many VoIP service provider’s plans. Since RNK is also a successful CLEC, they maintain the ability to port customers’ existing phone numbers as well as the ability to offer traditional 911/E911 and 411 services.
RNK is also offering a business version of Phone for Life, for only $99 and a low, per-minute fee for calls.
Further on down the road, I dropped in to see our old friends at Pactolus. Ken Osowski, the company’s VP of product marketing and product management shared his thoughts on the state of the industry, and the shape of his firm. I’m glad to report that both are looking up. He also shared some insight into Pactolus’ new SIPware Broadband Telephony service. The service is a software solution designed for carriers deploying voice services (primary and secondary line) over broadband. Subscribers can make IP calls to other IP phones or to the PSTN, and receive calls through a PSTN-provisioned phone number. SIPware delivers line-side calling features such as Caller ID, call waiting, and the like in order to provide the subscriber with a similar experience to legacy PSTN-based phone services.
One of the most heartening thoughts that I came away with from this journey through New England is that in speaking with the people who are in the trenches every day — building and promoting and selling VoIP to the world — I get the real sense that good things are happening in the industry. One gets a very different view of the health of the VoIP market when visiting a vendor’s office than, say, at a trade show. In the quiet thoughtful conversations that are undisturbed by the din of thousands of people milling about an exhibit hall floor, one sees the real drive and the desire of people to succeed at this game we call VoIP. Every so often, one has to get out of the office and hit the blacktop to really get a sense of where we as an industry are headed. Rest assured I feel good about the year and the road ahead.
To The January 2005 Table Of Contents ]