January 10, 2005
There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to get from point A to point B and it is pouring rain and you left without an umbrella. Personally my least favorite rain is the small drops coupled with a high-speed wind... You know, the kind that hurts your face. If you are like me when caught in such situations, you begin to think about the benefits of sprinting to point B, versus casually walking.
Then there is that quick walk that you can do that is right about in the middle. Generally, I am a sprinter... That is until I run out of breath (which seems to come more quickly every year).
What if rain drops were like VoIP customers being lost? If you are an ILEC, every defector to Vonage or CallVantage is like a rain drop. Sure, one drop or two is not a big deal but when a whole bunch of these drops (lets say hundreds or thousands or even millions) hit you, you have to decide how to get out of the storm.
A company like SBC is getting hit and hit hard and their umbrella (which would be their own VoIP service) is not available at the moment yet they hope to have one soon. SBC's plans are as follows... Get VoIP rolled out ASAP and at the same time, do whatever it takes to stop losing customers.
Recently a colleague of mine who has read my columns was going to switch to Vonage or CallVantage and when they called SBC, they were offered a special "all-you-can-eat" long-distance plan for under $30 per month as well as a refund on their bill going back months for a total of hundreds of dollars!
He hasn't received the check yet but this is perhaps the biggest threat to VoIP I have heard from the incumbents and it seems to be a sure sign of desperation. It is not beyond these companies who crippled DSL competition in the past to do whatever it takes to kill VoIP but the question is are they too late. The answer is yes as the momentum of VoIP is too strong to be killed by a $29.95 price point.
Still it is a significant day when SBC basically says, "We will not lose customers."
Lets see how this plays out. It is difficult to understand how cheap the SBC VoIP offering will be when the PSTN cost hovers around $30.
So until their VoIP umbrella can be found it seems like a quick pace of walking (or is this a sprint?) is the best solution to get SBC to point B.