Looking Back at Telecommunications In 2007

As we move head strong into the New Year, I would like to take this time to look back at the past 12 months as they relate to VoIP and the Telecommunications Industry in general. 2007 was a year of upheaval and innovation, as VoIP became more of a mainstream technology and less of a novelty, the growing pains experienced define the winners and losers in a tumultuous year.The Pure Play VoIP providers were hit especially hard in 2007. The sudden and unannounced disappearance of SunRocket left subscribers in the lurch as other providers scrambled to fill the void. The once leader of the residential VoIP market, Vonage, was hit by multiple lawsuits for patent infringement, causing its stock to tumble as customers bolted like rats from a sinking ship. To add insult to injury, cable giant Comcast Communications gained the lead for residential market share with its triple play offerings of voice, video and Internet access. Packet8 faired well in 2007 reaching the 10,000 subscriber mark, albeit more due to the SMB than residential market with its hosted IP PBX services.In the Enterprise market, the appearance of Microsoft’s Office Communications Server has caused many an institution to take a wait and see attitude on convergence. An independent study by Psytechnics concluded that the voice quality of the OCS 2007 was considerably better than some leading technologies currently available (CallManager). Microsoft’s goal seems to be to make the PBX (IP or otherwise) obsolete, as voice and unified communications morph into just another software application. Potential savings for Business could be huge as hardware and infrastructure costs decline with the adoption of their soft phone technology.On the wireless front, the ominous firing of Sprint Nextel CEO and WiMax champion Gary Forsee leads to the dissolution of an agreement between Sprint and Clearwire Communications to begin a nation wide rollout of WiMaxin 2008. Although they started their soft launch of WiMax in three major cities in December as scheduled, Sprint says they are reevaluating their long term business plan and will let us know next year. Sprint has been losing market share steadily over the year, and as the largest holder of WiMax spectrum in the U.S., some are calling for them to either put up or spin off. 2008 the year of WiMax? Maybe not here!The FCC ruled in March that rural telecoms must open their networks to VoIP providers, and in another ruling exempted VoIP providers from state regulations. Another ruling for consumers in November states that consumers’ numbers must be ported within 48 hours of signing up with a new VoIP provider. In December, FCC chairman Kevin Martin reaps the wrath of Congress for loosening the longstanding ban on cross ownership that prohibits newspapers and broadcast stations from owning each other in the same market, thus opening the door for big media to consolidate.On a positive note, for those of us that think VoIP and open source is a positive thing, Verizon announced late in the year that it would open its network to “any” device or application that meets the minimum requirements. A potential road to Fixed Mobile Convergence, Verizon expects that most consumers will still use their existing calling plans. As the first cellular company in the U.S. to open up, Verizon puts itself in a favorable position in the FCC’s eyes for the upcoming auction of the 700MHz Spectrum in late January. Verizon also announced shortly thereafter that it would be going with LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology for its 4G network.The past year has indeed given us a look at trends to come, as shakeups determine which of the wireless technologies will predominate, and tech behemoths like Google and Microsoft enter the telecommunications game for the first time.Telecommunications; it’s not just about phones anymore.

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