Om, who has taken a Blogging Break from eating his mother's cooking this week (gosh i wish I was there it has to be awesome) found an interesting statistic about VoIP providers. According to the report there are now 1100 providers out there.
Thank god they all haven't asked me to trial their product. I'm way behind on those things due to my traveling. HINT--Softphones get priority, which is why I've become such a fan of the XTEN and BroadVoice combo as well as Skype where my Skype Address is andyabramson.
Anyway, as Om points out the DSL and Cable operators control the pipe, which means what? I actually think the carriers will begin a "toll" type of service to the VoIP providers. While it may not be as easy to decipher carriers like AT&T and Verizon which own their own networks, and peer with other networks like Level3, SBC's and Bell South will always get the best and "free" ride on their peer's networks. But for hanger ons like Vonage and others the service will need to be paid some type of access fee.
What does this mean? Well the MSOs in cable also have their own on ramps, while they have created their own "local loops" via SONET rings, most of the traffic they have that goes outside their own "metro" area moves on carriers like AT&T, so they will get the same type of preferred top of the peer treatment.
It's the unaligned and non-network parties who will have to pay, either that or they will get swallowed up whole by the big guys. While they hope to be acquired at some high multiple, my guess is the carriers will buy technology, not customers. I mean, if no one buys Vonage from Jeffrey Citron and Pals or any of the other upstarts, are those customers going to head back to PSTN? I don't think so. They will just switch to a company that they know will be around somewhat longer for their VoIP service.