Dana has a pretty strong opinion on Broadsoft’s latest announcements here. He says that VoIP shouldn’t be a carrier service at all, that it should simply be an application. The implication is that you should be able to buy voice communications as a $99 application, and never talk to the service provider again.
He’s wrong, at least partially.
The voice network is going to evolve in exactly the same way that client server architectures did. It will move from large, vertically integrated boxes (called switches today), to a high speed access network with voice terminals (handsets become like browsers, and PC’s become rich voice terminals), and voice servers (for multi-party services, or services that need to be accessed from multiple devices).
There is a school of thought which says that every home will have a server in it — a natural extension of the PC, or game platform, or whatever. This would be the logical place to put voice mail and other such services. Perhaps every home with an alpha-geek will have one. Certainly I could use one, but then I have 5 PC’s, an MP3 music player, two IP phones, and an xBox attached to my network. My biggest problem, though, is that I can’t remember what PC I put which file on. Voice will have the same problem… what device has the voice mail? It’s today’s number clutter problem writ large.
No, the average household will never have a voice server at home. We tried that years ago, and it was called an answering machine. Most people subscribe for a nominal fee to the service provided by the phone company because (a) it’s accessible everywhere, and (b) it can answer the phone while I am taking another call. VoIP solves problem (b) nicely, but not (a).
In the near future, carrier provided IP voice services are the only way that VoIP will be deployed. In the mid to long term, the network will be one where UNE-P reaches it’s logical conclusion. VoIP means that carriers become fat pipes, and service providers deliver applications across that network. Some consumers will choose to host some applications themselves, but the totality of voice will never be a $99 package you buy at retail and install on a home server.