Thursday, June 30, 2005

Voxilla Comes to Canada

Here's another sign of life for the Canadian VoIP market. Voxilla, who is a well known industry news service, also provides an interesting and useful set of resources about VoIP. It's a great place to go if you have questions about how to make your ATA or router work better. And lots more.

They have just launched a Canadian retail online operation, where VoIP users can buy a wide range of end points and peripherals, priced in $ Canadian. Finally, a place where Canadians can order something in Canada and pay for it in local currency. Now that's progress! Canadians have long been second class citizens in the world of ecommerce - they're not as comfortable buying online as Americans, but when they do buy, it's usually from an American site, which means paying in $US, not to mention shipping and Customs charges. Not easy.

The Canadian Voxilla operations will be based in Vancouver, BC - not surprising since Voxilla corporate is San Francisco-based.

Two things about the storefront caught my eye...

First is the Dock 'n Talk Cell Phone Station. To me, it looks a lot like one of Pulver Innovations' old products, the CellSocket. It's no longer offered, but I always thought it was a great idea. The Dock 'n Talk is great for people with huge buckets of unused minutes in their mobile plans, and want to route those calls over their home landline for better quality reception. Those types of mobile plans are common in the U.S., but not in Canada. So, the uptake may not be as strong here - Canadians are not as in love with their cell phones as Americans, but they do use them a lot, no doubt.

Small sidebar here - Pulver Innovations has its own online store as well. There's only a handful of products there now - no Cell Socket, but it's a similar concept to Voxilla.

The second feature of note is VoIP Services. This sounded promising, but there's nothing offered yet. That's ok, but I'm just wondering if they'll turn into a portal where people can find out about various VoIP offerings, compare them, etc., and maybe even sign up online? That could be very interesting.

VoIP has not been marketed to the masses yet in Canada - this is a serious downside to the CRTC's VoIP ruling, which effectively keeps the ILECs out of the game, at least for now. When the ILECs control 98% of the market, it's pretty tough to create mass awareness and adoption without them. The MSOs will have some success, but they're still outsiders for telecom services. So, this is a long-winded way of saying that Voxilla's VoIP Services could be helpful in building the market here, but they're hardly a household name. They have built it, and hopefully people will come. Let's hope so - Canada needs more initiatives like this.

Stay tuned, it should be an interesting summer here.

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