I was just reading this article: Net2Phone Out2Dry and it brings up some interesting points regarding the positioning of phone companies/Tier 1 carriers, cable companies, and the likes of Net2Phone, Vonage, Lingo, etc.
It discusses how Sprint picked up a cable-telephony contract from Mediacom Communications Corp. and how that could spell trouble for Net2Phone which is also trying to get a foothold in cable telephony.
The article goes on to say that the reason why Mediacom chose Sprint was because of crucial telecom features such as 911 service. Of course, a counterpoint to the 911 argument is that Vonage, which is a similar company to Net2Phone supports 911 just fine.
But certainly it is possible that the Tier 1 carriers can offer advanced features that Vonage, Packet8, Lingo, etc. cannot offer, including bundling various services (broadband data, voice, and perhaps TV/video in the future).
In fact, AT&T CallVantage has some really cool features that some of the other boradband VoIP players do not. In fact, an AT&T insider told me, "Other cool features are on the way that will blow away Vonage." Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. In my opinion, AT&T CallVantage needs to come down in price then worry about the features. Or at least offer a base feature set with a low monthly cost and then offer some ala-carte features for say $1/month per feature. This way they can compete price-wise with the likes of Lingo, Packet8, Vonage, etc.
The deal between Sprint (a phone company) and Mediacom (a cable company) brings to mind my argument just last week where I argued that the cable companies could pull a Benedict Arnold on AT&T and take VoIP customers for themselves.
I argued in that blog entry (AT&T makes deal with the devil (cable companies)), that it "Seems to me AT&T could be shooting itself in the foot. In fact, several cable companies already offer voice. For example, CableVision offers Optimum Voice (voice over cable). It certainly seems to be strange bedfellows to me, but maybe I'm missing the big picture."
Andy Abramson offered some good counterpoints to this in the comments section of my blog entry.
Putting that argument aside for a moment, maybe now with AT&T and Sprint brokering deals with cable companies, small VoIP broadband companies like Vonage, Lingo, and Broadvoice will be on the outside looking in. Could this spell the death knell for Vonage, Net2Phone, Packet8, Broadvoice, and Lingo? You tell me...