January 08, 2005

DialpadUSA Interpreted

Dialpad announced their new service DialpadUSA that gives “unlimited calling to the U.S.. and Canada for $11.99 per month”. This service uses the broadband connection for outgoing toll calls and uses standard PSTN connection for other outgoing calls and for incoming calls. But the interesting aspects of this news item are in the fine print and also what it suggests to be the real value of VoIP.

First and foremost, the service determines whether a call is a toll call is by the presence of initial digit 1. So if you are making a local, but toll call, then you must dial the full 11 digits. Forget that they say “you don't have to change your dialing habits”. It also looks like international calls will always use their network. For quality reasons if you want to use the PSTN, then one has to use another extension. Their press release says that “In addition, the new service comes with a broadband adapter, the dpPhone, which bridges the gap between VoIP and the traditional telephone network (PSTN) by combining the two services into one phone.” One would think that this means that they give the ATA for free. Not so. When you try to sign up, you realize that the ATA costs $30; there is an activation fee of $30. Of course there is a shipping and handling charge of $10. I say that they are charging $70 for the ATA.

DialpadUSA is nothing more than “local bypass” service. Almost ever since I started in this industry (just before divestiture), people have been obsessing over this and have devised various schemes. For this we don’t need VoIP; a special phone that is programmed to dial out the access number followed by the PIN number will do the trick. Moreover when the access charge regime is rationalized, this games comes to an end. A true VoIP proponent will be asking where are the promised features of VoIP.

Posted by aswath at January 8, 2005 01:40 PM
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