February 28, 2006

What is an Independent to do?

Om writes that cable companies have had a “whopper” year. He goes on to say, “Cable telephony subscribers currently represent roughly 9% of telephony-ready homes, 10% of basic cable subscribers, 24% of cable-modem subscribers or roughly 7% of Bell households, UBS says, which means that things are going to get a tad difficult for independents like Vonage and Sun Rocket, and also for Bells which are scrambling to roll out their triple play offerings.” Being in the arms supply business, it is natural for me to suggest strategies for the independents and the Bells.

Since the cable companies are focused on POTS replacement business, the independents should migrate away from ATA=based telephony and offer more advanced features. For obvious reasons, I can enumerate these features. But one example will be the ability to control the calls from a “foreign” location – not just via the ATA. Even the early adapters prefer to use the phone form factor; but their contacts are stored in the computer. So why not allow the call be dialed through the computer, but use the ATA for the actual conversation – good old third party call setup? A thoughtful exercise will produce a long list of such features. Of course, the incumbents offer many of these features to their POTS subscribers as well.

But both the incumbents and the cable companies have an handicap – their signaling architectures. Both POTS signaling and NCS, used by the cable cos are stimulus in nature. This means all the features need to be developed in the Class 5 switch or the Call Agent. In other words new features have a long development cycle. But the independents use SIP and so the features could be implemented in the ATA. Development of features can be outsourced if they define a good set of APIs. I think this is where the independents should focus on now.

Posted by aswath at February 28, 2006 02:26 AM
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