Is regulation bad for VoIP? Perhaps it might even be good. In this piece in the Prague Post, my friend Jon Arnold is quoted:
Analyst Arnold said the only law that he can foresee that would really hinder the market would be one requiring VoIP providers to pay for the use of going over carrier networks, as happens when a person makes a SkypeOut call that goes from their computer to a land line.
“Right now they get a free ride, which allows them to price their service so low,” Arnold said. “Without this low pricing, VoIP wouldn’t really grow.”
It sounds like a crazy idea, but a tax on PSTN interconnects, as Jon speaks of here, might just have the opposite effect from what most people think. Skype has grown just fine without PSTN interconnects, so it’s not really a “free ride” as Jon says. VoIP, and Skype in particular, is good enough that people are using it in real business scenarios today. News.com ran a piece titled VoIP Goes to the Office recently. According to that piece, some companies, like Aruba Networks, have adopted Skype as part of their communication strategy. Certainly, at Iotum we have been using Skype extensively. We haven’t paid for a conference call in months. Skype can do it from the desktop for no cost.
The market will evolve, and over time, as more people become connected using VoIP, PSTN interconnects will have less value. Business models like Vonage’s, which simply replicate the PSTN system on VoIP, are ephemeral, and will be replaced by something else.
Where’s the tipping point, then? When will a tax on PSTN interconnect simply drive more people to VoIP? Could we be at that point now? Are we almost there?