Thursday, April 07, 2005

Eliminating the Service Provider?

In a comment on the previous Disappearing VoIP entry, Aswath writes, "the only promise of VoIP is end-to-end direct communication, unaided by any provider."

Any provider is a bit of an overstatement - someone's providing the broadband network and the software - but I get the drift: eliminate the voice service provider. Yes, VoIP enables this in a way that is impossible in the POTS network. By the same token, I could download a free copy of Movable Type and host this blog on my home PC - but I find it easier to use Blogger. I could run a mail server, but gmail works fine and, again, is a lot easier for me. Eliminating the service provider is possible for a lot of applications, and there will be those who want to do so, for flexibility, control, features, dislike of the service provider, and a variety of other reasons. But there will plenty of people who are perfectly content to let someone else do the heavy lifting.

If the only promise of VoIP is end-to-end direct communication without any voice service provider, there will be a very large category of people who will not particulary care about VoIP.