September 11, 2006

You Decide

This morning there was a news story about Earthlink expanding their “VoIP” service to eight more cities in US. (I guess they haven't heard that PSTN is not a four letter word anymore and that many, especially cable operators don't want to associate their offerings with VoIP label. Never mind that from user experience point of view that this is closer to PSTN than it is to VoIP.) The story goes on to make the following statement: “Because the service is IP-based, customers will be able to take advantage of several enhanced features they wouldn't otherwise get with traditional phone services, such as call prioritization, click-to-dial, number blocking and Web-based voice mail.” This is a puzzling claim on two counts – the UNI interface is the same as PSTN and at least some of the identified services are being offered by one or more PSTN carriers. In my reading the story seems to suggest that PSTN can not offer these services. So I posted a comment on their company blog and I received an unequivocal response, but with a modified claim.

The author of the blog, Dave C claims that “non-IP based phone service doesn't offer”. Mind you, it is not that it can not be offered; it is just that it is not offered. Let us examine the modified claim. Web-based voice mail is of course available with some PSTN carrier: to wit, take a look at Verizon's iobi; PhoneGnome makes this service available to PSTN line as well. As for call blocking, take a look at iobi again. I thought every other company is offering click-to-dial to anybody and everybody; it doesn't even require the PSTN carrier's intervention. I am not sure what is meant by call prioritization. So I have to assume that VoIP is needed.

We are being told that this week VON will be all about applications. So let us keep our ears open and mind as well and pay close attention to see whether these applications can be offered to PSTN users as well or not. Keep in mind that PSTN is here to stay.

Posted by aswath at September 11, 2006 11:40 PM
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