Seems like VoIP can’t catch a break this summer. It started with Vonage’s patent troubles earlier this year and got worse with the bankruptcy of SunRocket. Most recently Skype suffered a widely publicized outage. Are these just growing pains for a burgeoning technology, or is stand alone VoIP service digging its own grave? Probably a little of both.
VoIP as a technology is certainly here to stay. Internet protocol’s capture of the PSTN is assured. The real question is what kind of service provider will harness VoIP to its fullest potential. Players like Vonage, SunRocket, and Skype push the envelope with VoIP, while more traditional carriers like Verizon take a more cautious and measured approach. Cable companies leverage VoIP very well, but also don’t stray too much from the perception of traditional telephone service. Consumers of course make the ultimate decision about winners and losers and to them, a service that works reliably is paramount. I question whether carriers (new or old) that try to position VoIP as a “revolutionary” new way to do phone service are tooting an irrelevant horn. The revolution for phone service has already arrived – it’s called wireless. In the end, VoIP will probably be nothing more than a more efficient way to transport voice traffic, with some cool new features of course (VoIP as an application in a web 2.0 world is a subject for another post). Carriers that are able to leverage these efficiencies, while also providing a bundle of reliable and value added services may ultimately win. It seems as if carriers that rely on VoIP alone, as some revolutionary way to make phone calls, continue to see their fair share of troubles.