Vonage Hits ISP Resistance

Bill Nash billn at billn.net
Thu Mar 31 18:33:11 UTC 2005

On Thu, 31 Mar 2005, Steve Sobol wrote:

> Bill Nash <billn at billn.net> wrote:
> I have no idea what my cable company pays for their bandwidth, but I am
> certain it's more than the $40 per month I pay for my 3Mbps down/256 Mbps
> up... and I am able to actually *get* 3Mbps on many occasions, and I average
> between 1 and 2 (on HTTP/FTP transfers, fwiw).
> Yes, I know the connectivity cost is shared between several thousand customers
> in this area, but what happens if large numbers of customers start using VOiP
> on a regular basis?

Not to be cynical, but if large numbers of customers start using VOIP on a 
regular basis, I imagine regulation will happen, especially if ISPs keep 
trying to inhibit consumer choices. Vonage is in the right place at the 
right time, I think. They're a notable pioneer for consumer VOIP services, 
and it puts them in a good position to supply meaningful insight into what 
it takes to make VOIP work for the consumer.

Chances are, if you're a VOIP customer, you're some form of digirati. That 
means email, IM, and a cell phone. I'm more enamored of my Vonage service 
for the simultaneous ringing feature than I am of having a home phone. 
Self-enabled number portability is a huge win for me as well. My actual 
VOIP traffic use is pretty minimal. As was mentioned in another post, 
being able to fire up a softphone on my portable hardware, anywhere I can 
get packets, is pretty much the holy grail of nerd mobility.

I don't think this evolutionary marriage of data and voice is a surprise 
to anyone, and these conflicts are growing pains. The incumbent telcos see 
it as a threat, which they should, but my personal view on this is like 
monkeys trying to fight against walking upright because it violates the 
existing natural order, nevermind the benefits of opposable thumbs.

There's already too much momentum, and too many options to completely 
circumvent even the ISPs. Hell, even Cringely gets it.

- billn

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