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The Year That Was: 2005

By Greg Galitzine


It�s been quite a year, both at home as well as in the extended Galitzine universe � that fun-filled world I like to call the VoIP industry. There are so many ways to mark the year that is about to pass into the stacks of history. Ticket stubs, photographs, collector cups from baseball stadiums across the country, perhaps a review of the year�s big news�

What were the big events that defined VoIP in 2005? Who were some of the more interesting players in the space? What were some of the more compelling storylines?

In January everyone was excited about the year to come. 2004 was a banner year for our industry, people were starting to forget the lean years that we had recently endured, and the future was bright. In retrospect 2005 did not disappoint.

The year began with Vonage announcing it had passed 400,000 subscriptions. Chairman Michael Powell announced that he would shortly be stepping down as head of the FCC, and the industry was awash with speculation: Who would take over from Powell, who had proven himself a champion of VoIP? Turned out to be Kevin Martin, who if recent history is any judge, is not nearly the friend of the industry that his predecessor was. Inter-Tel announced it was buying Lake Communications, which was very well received; Level 3 announced they were halting their (3)Tone wholesale hosted VoIP business, which was not as well received. Of course, folks like Volo Communications were only too happy to step in and service Level 3�s erstwhile customers.

February: My birthday, my twins� birthday, Lance Armstrong announces he will attempt to win his seventh Tour de France, Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO was mobbed, prompting a move to a larger facility in 2006, Verizon announces it will acquire MCI, the VoIP Security Alliance launches, and a new player named Teleo hits the scene.

March: The session border controller market frenzy began with Juniper purchasing Kagoor, presaging Data Connection�s announcement in April that it would offer SBC functionality in software as well as Ditech�s acquisition of Jasomi in June. This month also saw the FCC rush to the defense of Vonage by slapping a fine on Madison River for blocking the VoIP provider�s ports.

April: IP telephony became legalized (sort of) in Russia, and Linksys, itself acquired by Cisco, in turn acquired Sipura. That acquisition is just now beginning to yield some pretty significant fruit.

May: Where�s Michael Powell when you need him? The FCC ruled that VoIP service providers would have to comply with on order demanding that they offer subscribers full 911 service by November. Meanwhile, the wireless industry is still working on that issue several years on.

June: Anyone who attended the final Supercomm came away thinking that IMS and IPTV were the only two subjects worth talking about. Unless of course you were at the TMC party at the top of the Sears Tower; in which case the sunset was spectacular!

July: Former Earthlink CTO David Beckmeyer launched PhoneGnome, which is quietly one of the cooler products to hit the market this year. Lance won his seventh Tour de France. Vonage went cordless with VTech. North of the border, Canada�s federal CRTC made the decision to regulate VoIP services.

August: The VoIP Developer Conference visited San Francisco. Google launched GoogleTalk. Now we know why they bought up all that dark fiber. Vonage�s IPO talk reached new heights of hype. (We�re still waiting.) Microsoft acquired Teleo, fueling their further reach into the VoIP space.

September: Arguably one of the most significant developments in the VoIP space occurred in September: eBay�s purchase of Skype. One can argue about the price paid, and I certainly took a very negative approach when I heard the numbers, but the idea grew on me and grew on me. It seemed like a lot of money at the time, but even now, just a few months removed, it looks like it was a bargain for everyone involved. Much has been written on the subject, and much remains to be said, but suffice it to say this was huge.

October: The giants of the consumer Internet are making their presence felt every day now. AOL launches their VoIP offering. Microsoft and Yahoo team up on IM. Sprint cuts deals with a bunch of major cable companies. Lucent announces a bunch of big wins in the IMS space. Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO draws its largest crowd ever, pulling in over 7,000 people to hear the likes of Carly Fiorina, Michael Powell, and Niklas Zennstrom speaking on the subject of VoIP. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the event as I was by my wife�s side as she delivered a baby boy. I am now thrice blessed.

November: TMC (our parent) announces the launch of two new magazines: SIP Magazine and IMS Magazine. The United Nations agreed to lay their hands off the Internet�s root servers, instead electing to let control remain in the hands of ICANN. Bill Gates issued another memo that will be reviewed in business history classes for years to come. (All depends how things work out, I guess.) Essentially Gates issued a call to Microsoft to heed the sea change and move headlong into the hosted services space. Back when we thought this was a good idea the first time, we called it the ASP market. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve legislation that would among other things, prevent the shutting off of VoIP service for providers who failed or were unable to comply with the FCC�s November 28 deadline. S. 1063, or The IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005, passed Committee unanimously. Rich Tehrani announced that 2006 would be heretofore known as the Year of VoIP Peering.

I can�t wait to see what next year has in store.

Here�s wishing you all a safe and prosperous 2006!

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