Bringing the Net to Your Home Phone

We all know that the Internet is available on your mobile phone – but how about bringing the Internet to your cordless home phone? In case you have forgotten (because you use your mobile phone for everything), your home phone is cordless but not too mobile. Since not everyone has converted to a “mobile phone as my only phone” lifestyle there are a series of startup companies that are focused on delivering the Internet to your cordless home phone.

How does it work? You buy a new cordless home phone system that has a base station and cordless handsets. The base station connects to the Internet via broadband and to your Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) line or a VoIP service for plain-vanilla talking.

What is new is that the cordless phone base station uses the Internet for services such as directory listings, IM, SMS, email, search, ring tones and everything else you take for granted on your mobile phone. (Sunrocket has similar ideas as well.)

I can imagine how this would be quite useful in everyday life. If I wanted to order pizza, I could pick up my cordless phone, use a menu to access the directory listings, select Food, then Pizza and be given a list of pizza delivery restaurants near my house and a click-to-talk option.

I’m willing to bet that localizing the directory service would be fairly easy to implement given that my cordless phone is always at a known and fixed location. Maybe the local pizza places would even want to deliver ads and coupons to my cordless phone or pay for placement at the top of the directory listing?

What is so intriguing about the concept of bringing Internet services to cordless phones is that it appeals to the consumer who likes mobile phone features and wants the convenience of having a cordless phone system at home. At the same time, it also appeals to the folks who have not yet embraced the Internet on their mobile phone by offering these services in a more familiar environment.

Nothing is for free, so who pays for these services? In the click-to-talk example, maybe the pizza delivery restaurant pays a referral or directory listing fee similar to a traditional cost per action (CPA) or sponsored advertising model. For other services, such as IM and search, perhaps the access is given away for free. Ring tones would probably be sold as they are today on mobile phones. Or maybe your local phone provider (or VOIP provider) could package some of these services with their monthly fees.

Here’s the irony – mobility and Internet features and functions have lured consumers away from using home cordless phones. Could the Internet on your cordless home phone lure you away from your mobile phones?

Allan Leinwand is a venture partner with Panorama Capital and founder of Vyatta. He was also the CTO of Digital Island.

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