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In Telerupted: Twilight for Telephone Networks, Daniel Berninger projects that at some point VoIP networks will connect more individuals than the PSTN, and then asks what might happen to current minutes based VoIP businesses. These businesses depend on charging for access to the VoIP network via the PSTN or vice versa. Moreover, the artificial constraints that this dependency imposes are real and substantial. Daniel writes:
Companies that depend on the telephone network inherit of a range of artificial constraints. VoIP devices connected via the telephone network lose the prospect of delivering high-quality audio. Traditional telephones do not support the use of domain names for routing or hyperlinking. Global flat-rate termination that serves as a driving force for applications of the Internet get sacrificed. Embracing the telephone network postpones the search for new forms of communication.
We live in interesting times in the telecom industry. Recently, I saw a presentation from a VoIP telco showing a great growth curve for a number of quarters followed by a flat period. After multiple quarters it suggested that in some markets mere POTS replacement has reached the point of saturation. Now this service provider, like the incumbents, is out looking for value added services to add to its portfolio.
Disruptive pricing can only disrupt for so long, it seems. At some point, that advantage can be erased, returning the basis of competition to service, products and features.