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Fall VON 2005 Report

Service Providers

An impressive group of VoIP service providers came to the party, including carriers such as AT&T, BroadWing, Global Crossing, Level 3 Communications, MCI, and XO Communications, and wholesale service providers such as deltathree, Net2Phone, IDT Telecom, and New Global Telecom.

VON's focus is primarily business-to-business, so consumer VoIP providers weren't that visible, except for BroadVoice, which had its van and "cheerleaders" parked prominently near the front of the show floor.I again found it odd that big-dawg Vonage was once again absent from the VON show floor, even though CEO Jeff Citron had a featured keynote. AT&T had a pod in its booth for its CallVantage service and 8X8 was pitching its Packet8 service from a small bay in Level 3 Communications' booth.

A short meeting with Packet8 revealed that they'll be starting a Beta of a CounterPath (formerly Xten) based softphone in November that they plan to offer in Q1 of next year. It hasn't been determined yet whether the softphone will be a separately-priced service. The other little factoid I picked up is that the new phone they started offering a few months ago with the Virtual Office product is actually an analog phone bundled with an ATA. The Packet8 rep said that this was due to the need to offer speakerphone capability - a feature she said that SIP phones generally don't yet do well.

Verizon was not to be found on the show floor, but I met with Michelle Swittenberg, Verizon's Executive Director of VoIP, offsite and got a demo of VoiceWing's web interface and a general business update on new products. I learned that VoiceWing is concentrating on the 2 to 4 line space, which includes home businesses and telecommuters, for whom they do not charge higher "business" rates. Ms. Swittenberg also said that Verizon will probably add a softphone to VoiceWing sometime next year (the holdup is E911 issues) and that they have no plans to offer a VoIP Wi-Fi phone anytime soon.