Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The second end of the VoIP Candle

As Murphy's law dictates, a newer better technology will come along the day after you bought the latest and greatest technology, rendering it obsolete. Just the other day, I blogged about SkypeOut and my new Skype phone, and today I discovered that T-Mobile has rolled out its Hotspot@Home service. Essentially, for an extra $20/month on top of your T-Mobile bill you get a phone that can connect to either a wi-fi network (your home or any other public wi-fi network) or to the cellular network. When on Wi-Fi calling is free anywhere in the US and unlimited. It can also supposedly switch over seemlessly from Wi-Fi to cellular networks and back again.

Of course, I am trying to see the real benefit in this? I guess this works if you have broadband at home but bad cellular coverage, or if you talk a lot in proximity to wi-fi networks and the $20 unlimited will provide you with cost savings. It goes without saying that if I am in a Foreign country and I can get my US phone to ring without having to pay international roaming, this would be tremendously beneficial.

But all that aside, the concept of UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access), and T-Mobile's launch of it, shows that the VoIP candle is being burned on both ends. On one side you have startups like Skype and Vonage that are trying to bridge VoIP to traditional phone networks using PSTN access points, and on the other you have cellular carriers looking to roam seamlessly between their Cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

A couple of years ago I made a prediction that in 3-5 years everything will be running off a giant IP-based platform. At least one of my predictions is coming slowly to fruition

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