Friday, May 18, 2007

Vonage - Is Peer-to-Peer the Answer?

A confluence of posts and emails today has prompted me to add something to the mix about Vonage's current state. I came across a couple of posts earlier today citing a New York Times article about Vonage. Basically, it's a rundown of alternatives people have for Vonage-type services, both for consumers and small businesses.

Most of these alternatives are first nature to industry watchers, so there's nothing really new there. However, to see Vonage get this type of attention from such a mainstream source says something about where VoIP is on the public agenda, which is great.

More troubling, however, is the underlying message that there's a "Vonage watch" going on out there, and it is the media's obligation to inform the public that alternatives do exist should Vonage somehow meet its demise. I really don't see such a terminal scenario unfolding any time soon - unless Verizon gets dealt a royal straight flush in the courts - and I just don't think it's going to come to that.

Much of the issue here rests on the patent infringement litigation with Verizon, and which way the courts will rule. Vonage has been a yo-yo in regards to whether they have a "workaround" or not, with the latest version being that they do. Regardless of how the trial turns out, it's pretty clear that Vonage will have to come up with a better of doing VoIP that doesn't step on anybody's toes - and the same more or less holds true for all the other pureplay VoIP providers.

It's not known how effective Vonage's workaround is/will be - nor do we know yet whether it's homegrown or based on a third party solution. Lots of mystery here - but intrigue too - which is why people like me keep writing about it.

So, here's the twist to the story, and I think I'm the only one out there making all these connections, and I hope there's something new here for you to consider.

There's a really interesting article - 2 actually - that ran on TMC's site today. It's written by Medhavi Bhatia, the CTO of 3CLogic, and the basic premise is that peer-to-peer solutions - such as theirs - can address Vonage's patent problems, and serve as an effective workaround. I've been following this company for a while, and this could be their moment. Both articles provide some technical insights about what P2P brings, and I suspect that if it could help Vonage, it can probably help a lot of other VoIP pureplays.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

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