Skype announced today that it is getting into the SIP trunking business by allowing native SIP calls to be connected directly to its network allowing enterprise communications systems to communicate seamlessly with Skype's network of users. During the Beta period, calls are carried at current Skype rates.
What this news does is take out the middleman. There really is nothing new in this release as this exact functionality has been available from companies like VoSKY, Skip2PBX, Pika and even Digium/Asterisk. The only differentiator seems to be the absence of a requirement for a SIP-Skype gateway to connect to Skype. So, Skype becomes in effect a SIP trunking provider.
The fact that Skype has decided not to use the term SIP trunking is baffling as this is the industry standard term for what they are doing. I haven't had a chance to reach out to them on this but question but I hope to learn more and report on it.
Credit is definitely due to the company. I wrote about what eBay should do with Skype back in October of 2007 and there are a few points which are finally being addressed:
Take a look:
5) Skype trunking: This technology is one of the most intriguing around - allowing companies to communicate with branch offices, customers and home workers at a low cost. I feel going forward every company should take advantage of SIP trunking and Skype trunking. Skype knows this. So the question I feel compelled to ask is why would they do not work more closely with partners such as VoSKY and actually market Skype trunking products to customers in a more serious way. VoSKY is doing a good job but why is there not a multimillion dollar Skype ad budget behind VoSKY and others? Why leave the success of this massive market in the hands of partners when you can ensure the rapid success of this burgeoning new space yourself? The reason may be that Skype was built as a viral platform and they except this to be the only way to sell. Ditto for eBay. Guess what? Companies like Avaya, Cisco, Dialogic and Quintum sell telecom equipment and/or gateways and they have to market to customers. To be serious in the business space, Skype needs to start a serious partner program where they fund the marketing of companies which help their own paid services increase.
6) Go after the PBX vendors: If I am a PBX vendor I would be looking for Skype interoperability as a differentiator. Still, I have yet to see an ad touting PBX vendor's Skype Interop. Why?
Obviously I think this is a smart move for Skype and it helps companies looking to cut costs while also leveraging the millions of Skype endpoints on the market. Using Skype for SIP for example will allow companies to have click-to-call buttons on their websites which directly connect to a corporate ACD, allowing call handling rules which are in place already to be observed.
In conclusion, this news is a win/win for customers and Skype and should even give a boost to the SIP trunking market. The differentiator Skype brings to the table is a massive network of devices and software on myriad computing platforms. It will be interesting to see how the company which has traditionally relied on the p2p network effect to sell will fare in a the SMB space where customers are not used to purchasing telephony through non-traditional marketing methods.
Dan York has a great and in-depth post on this news.