Verizon VoIP over EVDO

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Verizon VoIP over EVDO

In my Vonage over EVDO blog I discussed how someone was able to make a VoIP call using Vonage over a high-speed EVDO connection. I also wondered how happy the cellular companies would be knowing that they are carrying voice over their data connection for the cost of a "monthly flat rate" data connection and thus no minutes used.

Well the answer may at least be partially answered by Verizon Wireless's chief technology officer, Dick Lynch, who outlined plans to launch "mass-market mobile VoIP" over the carrier's network. The services are expected to go live as early as 2008 or 2009. This amazingly fast timetable is made possible through Verizon's 3G EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized) network, according to Dick Lynch. He specifically mentioned the upstream portion (typically is slower than the downstream) will provide a "peak rate of about 1.8 Mbit/s."

Ok, so Verizon is planning on offering VoIP carried over their EVDO connection. My question still is, "Why wouldn't a user simply play for the flat rate EVDO data connection and then use a third-party VoIP provider instead of their cellular carrier?" For instance, if you use Skype over EVDO you could essentially make Skype-to-Skype calls for "free" over Verizon's EVDO data connection. So why would someone use Verizon's VoIP over EVDO? Unless Verizon plans on blocking third party VoIP providers from their network, Verizon's only alternative is to create such a huge incentive to use their VoIP over EVDO service that you wouldn't want to use a third-party VoIP service provider. (Note: The backlash from blocking third-party VoIP providers would be immense).

So what incentives could Verizon offer? Let me ponder a few... What if they integrate their residential broadband service Verizon VoiceWing with their cellular/EVDO service? What if you could access your VoiceWing voicemail along with your cellular voicemail all from your cell phone? What if they partner with Skype and "bundle" Skype on Verizon EVDO cell phones and take a small "cut" of the pie for any SkypeOut calls? (a small slice of pie is better than no pie at all!) . What if also as part of this partnership with Skype they charge a nominal 1 cent per minute for Skype-to-Skype calls and give Skype a 1/2 cent per minute "cut"? Of course Skypers would probably be in such an uproar over Skype "selling out" to Verizon and taking away the ability to make "free" Skype-to-Skype calls, that this may not be a viable option. In any case, it's going to be interesting to see how Verizon, other EVDO providers, or indeed any high-speed wireless service provider handle VoIP traveling on their network.

Verizon will spend approximately $1 billion over the next two years on its EVDO network. According to Verizon they expect customers to achieve an average throughput of 400-600kbits/s. Verizon will begin field trials in late 2006.

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