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August 12, 2005

Talking Bloggers

Blog Panel may be an oxymoron unless we’re all going to type real fast at each other, but I’m honored to have been invited to be on such a panel with a bunch of bright and prolific bloggers.  Andy Abramson is the moderator; Fall VON (Voice on the Net) is the venue;  the time is September 21 from 9:00 to 10:30.

More importantly the time is now when VoIP (ugly as it sounds) has become a hot word in USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and even local papers and is no longer hidden in the acronym collection of nerds like me.  VoIP has also become a real threat (can you say “Skype”?), not just a cloud on the horizon, to the oligarchies of communication – although it can be an opportunity for them.  The opposition has also become real. 

The FCC has switched from bipartisan deliberately benign neglect, which helped make the US the world’s VoIP leader, to an active protector of the status quo.  I’m not sure what we’ll be talking about but here’s some of what each of the other panelists has blogged recently about VoIP.  They’re good; maybe I’ll just listen:-}

Jeff Pulver

The problem is that some folks at the FCC don't realize the doors they have closed or that the steps they have taken have just reassured that the US will remain in the back of the pack when it comes to broadband innovation and broadband penetration as a nation.

If asked, I'd suggest that someone invests in an IP Communications start-up that wasn't totally dependent upon taking on customers in the United States and/or only offering US residents "connected services." In the long run it just isn't worth it and with the policies in place and the path the FCC is heading, we are much better off starting to focus on global markets where the local policy encourages innovation and entrepreneurs than the reverse.  (from here)

BTW don’t expect all the attendees at VON to be sorry the US won’t be as competitive as it can be; they come from more than  forty countries worldwide and they’re not going to stand still while our regulators slow us down by imposing outmoded means to meet worthy ends like 911 service and national security.

Andy Abramson

Many a start-up I know liked to use Vonage as their pipeline to their developers in far away places. But with the arrival of Skype which combines IM with Voice, they have made the switch…

… Vonage went on to be a broadband replacement for the PSTN telephone and everyone else has followed suit.

IM is a key behavior changing application--you can ask if someone is there, can they take a call. Heck, you can even leave a message that way. Skype took this behavior and added voice. Now they are adding users at the expense of regular and next-gen phone companies. (from here)

Om Malik

Skype to go public? Fat chance: But that doesn’t stop Business Week from joining the party. Why it won’t happen? Niklas Zennström, who thinks of himself as the next Bill Gates can’t really enter this country. Secondly - where are the revenues? Even if we are in the frothy times (and we are) this is no dot-com bubble. Oh, Skype will be sold, at a much lower price folks have been dreaming up! (from here)

Unlike most bloggers, Om’s day job is writing as well.  His blog alternates between scoops and punditry.

Mark Evans

Stepping back a bit, why is Skype suddenly so interested in finding a buyer? Are its VCs drooling for a huge return? Probably. Is Skype worried about Michael Robertson's Gizmo service, which has received mixed reviews so far? Maybe if only because it demonstrates the barriers to entry are low so a Skype-killer can come out of nowhere. Does Zennstrom and partner Janus Friis want to cash out after walking away from Kazaa with little to show for their efforts? Perhaps. Has Skype been approached by potential buyers? Could be. (from here).


Aswath Rao

…updated statistics…[are] now available from Skype …

First a summary of the statistics that we are told so far:

Registered number of users: 35M to 40M

Concurrent users online at any time: 2M to 3M

Number of Skype minutes in a month day: 40M to 50M minutes

A decidedly trouble maker’s interpretation of these numbers:

Less than 10% of users are online at any given time, thereby reducing the “network effect” tremendously. But wait. This is good, because this means users need voice mail, a subscription service.

So a user is generating an average of less than 2 minutes per month day. Alternatively, most of the users are using Skype for text chat (because they are searching for the headset, generalizing from personal experience). (from here)

Martin Geddes

…I’d like to offer, if not a contrary view, at least a different perspective on muni networks. I believe there are good and bad reasons to build them. But dismissal is not an option.

Yes, there’s a clear transfer payment in favour (sic. he’s British)  of people who are unwilling to pay the current market-clearing price of a broadband connection. This is a net loss of utility to society, since the taxpayers whose money was confiscated had other, more pleasant, ways of spending this money in mind.

But there are also reasons to consider the free flow of information via telecom networks as a special and unique case. Information goods may not always conform to classical economic models, such as rivalrous consumption. (from here)

Stuart Henshall

Skype just lost a portion of my family SkypeOut business to a product still in beta. VoipBuster enables you to dial most of the SkypeOut global calling countries for "FREE" after you have opened an account and paid one Euro. Otherwise you are limited to calls of one minute. That's it $1.27 and you can call the UK, Canada, Australia and thoughout the US for free from your computer. Many other rates are similar to SkypeOut rates. So how long will this last? Are they buying the business? What should the rate really be? Questions I don't know the answer to. However, "FREE" local calls in the US is what this provides me. If this is forever then my landline could go. With SkypeIn and VoipBuster combined users can become even more aggressive on their communication strategies. Is this another sign of rates accelerating to zero? (from here)

Stuart and the skype journal he blogs on are decidedly independent of Skype.  And very knowledgeable.

James Seng

The next ten years in network is going to be 10x more exciting than the last ten we have. We had our first billion internet users finally after nearly three decade but over the next ten years, we going to add another (or two) billion more easily.

What's significant is the additional billion users will not be geeks but just ordinary user. Yep, geeks like us will be outnumbered! And to them, Internet is just a tool, like a phone and the uses of Internet is far more important then the technology driving it. We already seeing more attention have been given to the applications (bittorrent, skype, blogs) and less into the core networking technology (ipv6, ipsec) in the last couple of years.(from here)

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