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Summary:

I have made my debut on CNNMoney website, with my first story, Breaking down VoIP’s Walls. You might have read my rant from yesterday, and this one adds more details. Interesting aspect while reporting it out yesterday, most equipment makers say, the VoIP carriers are making […]

I have made my debut on CNNMoney website, with my first story, Breaking down VoIP’s Walls. You might have read my rant from yesterday, and this one adds more details. Interesting aspect while reporting it out yesterday, most equipment makers say, the VoIP carriers are making them do it.

“We make it very clear to the consumer (on the boxes) that the phone works with a specific service,” says Brett Morrison, manager for VOIP and business communications group at Uniden. “Service providers are not giving us the option to interoperate.”

But the best quote for the story came from Jeff Pulver, who is clearly upset about this trend.

“As someone who has fought for open standards in VOIP, I think this trend totally defeats the purpose.”

  1. Om, I had also found both of your articles and published a commentary on my blog, at http://michigantelephone.mi.org/blog/2006/01/om-malik-on-voip-walls.html – as I say there, I have always felt that consumers should be able to purchase a SIP adapter they way they purchase, say, a cable or DSL modem, and use it with whatever provider they choose. The VoIP service provider is allowed to “lock” whichever lines on the device are being used with their service (to prevent certain types of fraud that might occur if customers had access to all the settings), but if the customer should decide to change service providers, there should be a way to return the VoIP adapter to “factory-fresh” condition (that is, all the original factory settings reinstated and all service provider settings dumped). I believe that some Sipura devices do in fact permit this, but I’m not sure if that’s true of the newer Linksys devices.

    I hope that the VoIP industry hears the message contained in your articles, before they shoot themselves in the foot and cause further ill will among customers and potential customers.

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  2. A very normal response to this entire mess is to just keep using a regular phone. The advantage of being able to reach anyone I want outweighs any VoIp feature on a silo.

    So is this what VoIp is all about… Then forget it, I’ll stay PSTN.

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  3. Referenced your posts in mine:

    [...] The market will also not accept what is starting right now – hardware bound to a provider. As more and more players emerge this model will be smashed by the first company that doesn’t care about consumer lock-in – those in which voice isn’t their sole reason for existing. Enter the portals I spoke of in that previous post – Yahoo, Google, MSN, AOL. Just point your SIP phone to your portal and bingo – you have service. These guys should (and likely will) blow Skype, Vonage and the like right out of their vertically designed shoes. [...]

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  4. Is it surprising that with costs trending to zero, suppliers would like to try to lock in their customers? Wireless companies have done this forever, so why is it a surprise?

    That being said, anyone that is only selling voice will be toast.

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  5. Uniden guy is full of it…….. Service providers dont’ give the option? I think the reason is more due to the fact that Uniden is paid quite handsomely to lock the boxes.
    I believe SIPphone / FWD had both tried to create a climate for hardware boxes to be unlocked.

    Hopefully the success of gizmoproject ( A SIP / open standards based softphone) will bring more hardware vendors into the mix.

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  6. Enterprise VoIP is going the way of the TDM even though it is open but all of the customers proudly say ” we chose vendor A since they can provide everything to me end to end”. Well if that is the direction decision makers chose to go it will be their fault when VoIP phones will continue to be priced at $400 and will stay proprietary in the garb of openess. Compare that to a full feature cordless phone which sells for under $50.

    If this attitude persisted when IP was young we would have never seen an open IP protocol as we see today and would still be using Novell and XNS protocols.

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