Telecom's voice is changing
As just about everything else is becoming a service--software, security, the operation of public networks--voice, the original telecom service, is becoming a product feature, and in some cases, a secondary feature.
That's what's happening with new offerings from VoIP companies like Ooma and magicJack, but it's also happening on the WiMAX front, where service providers and device firms are looking to package voice as a secondary feature in new form factors, such as broadband USB access devices. The new difference is that the marketing push is all around the device itself, whether that device is a hub like Ooma's or a USB phone jack like magicJack's. Maybe it's an existential observation, but voice no longer belongs to the network. It's a free or nearly free feature in trendy device packaging.
So, what does that mean for traditional telcos? Almost nothing, because they will need voice revenue less and less in the coming years. It will continue to be important to them as one ingredient in a converged or bundled offering, but still secondary that sense. Instead, the companies that will be in danger are the ones that have built their business plans around VoIP. Not only will they get squeezed by competition and whatever legal hassles the incumbent telcos dream up, but their leading service will be a secondary service to almost everyone else.