While 2005 was the year that VoIP grew up, next year will be when Wall Street and global financial markets take the industry to the next level, according to industry expert Jeff Pulver, chief executive of pulver.com.
Pulver, who has co-founded several IP communications companies, including Vonage, sees at least two major billion dollar-plus acquisitions in the industry in 2006. The deals will at least match eBay’s $2.6bn purchase price to acquire Skype in September, he said in his blog.
Major media and Internet companies will announce blended, transformational IP-based communications plays, Pulver said.
Also, the Research in Motion patent challenge will become a boon for integrated IP-enabled devices, he said.
VoIP peering will continue to happen between carriers, but the business models driving peering will not be worked out until 2007 or beyond. Look for enterprises to explore the benefits of federating their communication networks, Pulver said.
Next year, look for the support of voice to become part of the e-commerce strategy for many Websites, he added.
And Internet application providers, such as Amazon, eBay, Google and Yahoo will make their presence known and will influence federal IP communications regulation and policy next year, he said.
The sides in the communications policy wars will become more apparent, with Internet access providers on the one side and Internet application providers on the other, Pulver said.
Governments worldwide will look harder at VoIP regulation next year, with an eye towards imposing social obligations such as emergency response, lawful intercept and disabilities access, Pulver said.
We will see a deepening divide between those countries that nurture the emerging industry and technology and those that stifle innovation by imposition of unnecessary, overly-broad and economically-debilitating one-size-fits-all regulation.
But in the US, lobbyists and policy makers will continue to try to apply legacy rules and regulations on Internet-based applications, such as VoIP, Pulver said. What’s more, he sees the US Federal Communications Commission attempting to extend its definition of indecency laws to the Internet, cable and satellite networks.
Also, in the US, the remaining Baby Bell phone companies will grow up and hold a virtual family reunion of sorts, Pulver said. This will, in effect, establish walled gardens in their collective broadband product offerings.
Expect other incumbent operators around the world to join this implicit cartel, Pulver said.
In parallel, wireless operators worldwide will continue to roll out their 3G strategies and grow their own Walled Gardens, leaving both academics and the Internet pioneers wondering ‘what ever happened to the dream of the Arpanet?’