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Theres No Turning Back Now

By Hunter Newby


GoogleTalk is all the talk. Hats off to them too. Its wonderful to know that the entire international calling world can be forever changed by ad revenue subsidies. In a strange sense, revenue from static text words will replace revenue from full duplex, real-time words. The truth is, the minute is dead and distance is gone. Its all about access. Vonage, Skype, and now GoogleTalk have taught the world a harsh lesson about radical change in a short period of time. VoIP as a technology within a standalone business model has been introduced to the mainstream, matured, and burned out in three years! VoBB, Voice on the Internet (thats free and for a fee) and now an open source, global free service. Wheres the value in voice when the money from minutes is gone? For the end user its become a give-away service, like e-mail. It isnt going to all happen overnight, but all of the pieces are in place and big names are starting to show their cards.

Microsoft also recently announced their entry into the VoIP business with the acquisition of Teleo. This marks a significant change in the industry and a point from which we will never go back. The VoIP peering significance of these public Internet VoIP application services being launched is that some of the operators (Google, Microsoft and potentially Yahoo!) may in fact peer with each other via Layer 2 Ethernet. In that case the public Internet portion of the call would only be on the access tails.

The relationship between these events and VoIP peering is an interesting one. These VoIP announcements are coming from providers of Internet-based VoIP services whereas what the enterprise and carrier voice network operators are typically building for their own internal purposes are Layer 2 networks to carry their VoIP traffic. The Fortune 500 will most likely never rely on the public Internet for their own internal voice network and will also most likely require their carrier service providers to do the same (that is if they know enough to ask). There will be some overlap in the SOHO business segment as they dont typically have the size, or savvy to build their own VoIP network, but the distinction between the two groups (end users versus corporate and carrier) and their preferred media (public Internet VoIP versus private Internet VoIP) will become much clearer.

This is an important part of the evolution of VoIP as it will help push the issue with all people, businesses, and carriers and create another information and education renaissance similar to when the e-mail phenomenon first occurred. Many people use VoIP today and dont even know it, but that is due to the carriers changing their own internal network operations and not making a big announcement about it. The renaissance occurs when people realize that if theyre just a little bit smarter about how they do what theyre already doing, they can do it better and at a lower cost. The most successful process for this realization is viral dissemination. Most people found out about e-mail from a friend. Most MIS and IT directors will probably find out about enterprise VoIP peering from their MIS and IT peers at other companies.

E-mail as an application over the Internet was a service evolution from the telegram as an application over telegraph networks. The time lapse from when the masses stopped sending telegrams to when e-mail was commercially available was too long for anyone to realize the relationship between the two, or to understand what improvements e-mail made to the telegram. First, telegrams were billed to the sender by the word. E-mail is free no matter how many words it is. E-mail is a service that for many is bundled in to the price of access. Second, to send, or receive a telegram you had to go to a telegram office, or station. E-mail, when it became available, was brought in to your home. It makes a big difference on rainy days and saves lots of time. Today with your PDA, e-mail is wherever you are. Since voice calling has been with us every day since it was introduced to the masses all the way from fixed-line to mobility we wont see VoIP as a new service like e-mail, but rather an improvement (technically, economically, or otherwise) to what we already have. Just like e-mail, voice calls, as VoIP, are quickly becoming a service that is bundled in to the price of access. Video will be next.

The correlation here is that all of our original networks telegraph, telephone, and television all have the same root: tele. Tele is Latin for distance, or far-off. This is the single, fundamental Achilles heel to all of these networks as their business models were based on the concept. In fact, it was not a concept at all at the time, but a physical limitation, a reality. Today that is no longer the case. Internet Protocol is one common language that encompasses telegrams, telephone, and television as e-mail, VoIP, and video over IP. IP enables peering and IP Peering (including VoIP Peering) is translated into English as local-area. Well, not exactly, but the point is that peering brings the world to you rather than you having to pay to get to every part of it. The world has become a much smaller place as a result. Now if we could only put DNA over IP I could travel over a Google Earth-like application, get there in three seconds and not have to fly on a plane again. IT

Hunter Newby is chief strategy officer at telx. For more information, please visit

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