Should The Telcos Be Scared Of VoIP?

from the wow-that's-scary dept

Over at Business Week, they’re realizing that VoIP looks damn scary to the traditional phone companies. The turning point, according to the article, was the recent announcement that IBM is going to shift most of its workforce to a VoIP solution instead of a traditional phone system. From there, they look at the media’s latest VoIP darling, Skype, to point out that the telcos might be in trouble. More importantly, though, it discusses the recent moves by Stealth Communications to create a public exchange for VoIP networks. While most people think about how the various FWD, SIPPhone type applications might inter-operate, the Stealth announcement could mean that large companies using VoIP wouldn’t even need to enter the old telephone network for calls outside the office. If, as is described in the article, both GE and IBM have their own VoIP systems, which connect via this exchange, the call remains entirely over IP and never has to enter the traditional phone system. The question, then, is what should a phone company do? They can’t deny that this is coming, but that doesn’t mean they just need to roll over and play dead. Just an hour or so ago, at the Pulver Wireless Summit, former FCC chair Reed Hundt was talking about the idea of offering free VoIP calls, and letting consumers free up the money they spend on voice to invest in true broadband access to the home. Opening up the possibilities and allowing more things to happen present new opportunities to make revenue. Holding on to legacy systems and complaining all the way down the drain does little to help anyone. That’s not to say that telcos aren’t going to face a drastic change in how they do things – or that they’ll successfully navigate the change. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that telcos are dead.

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