Will Linksys bring VoIP to the Masses?
Linksys, probably one of the best-known mass-market computer accessory manufacturer in North America, if not worldwide, has definately “lowered the bar” in terms of price for VoIP gear. Whereas an unlocked SPA-2000 sells for about $90, the PAP2 locked to Vonage sells for under $50. Even though the device is locked to Vonage and can’t be easily unlocked, it still lowers the bar on what is an acceptable price to pay for end user VoIP equipment.
Certainly, seeing the blue Linksys/Vonage boxes in places like Frys, Staples, and the like certainly makes more consumers aware that, if they have broadband, they can also get phone service over that connection too. Will it drive aoption by the masses though? While the extra exposure won’t hurt the cause any, after all, the AT&T CallVantage ads that aired during the 2004 Summer Olympics was raise awareness about VoIP in general), it will take a number of things to drive adoption.
- Cheaper, more widely deployed broadband. VoIP doesn’t make sense when you’re stuck on dialup. Broadband is also a “fixed cost” to factor into the cost of VoIP.
- Convincing those that can to jump on the Broadband Wagon. There are a number of people who don’t have broadband, even though they live in a servicable area. My inlaws, who live three houses down from me, still use dialup. Why? Because it’s cheaper and they don’t feel the need for speed.
- Keeping government regulations minimal on VoIP. One sure way to kill the advance of VoIP is to add unnecessary regulation to it. The FCC generally seem to have the right idea, though I don’t have as much faith in the US Congress, whose vision is obscured by the large sums of money the telephone companies give them.