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Posts from April 6, 2014 - April 12, 2014

Are We About To Enter The World Of Really Free Calling?

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

There's a lot of rumors swirling around that GoogleVoice is going to basically disappear and be fully merged into Hangouts. You can likely thank the likes of Gizmo Voice founder Michaeal Robertson and the now Uber UberConference team of Vincent Paquet and Craig Walker for all their pioneering work years back. Basically what we're hearing now is the confluence at Google of what Skype is on its own. So where you have the GrandCentral technology all dressed up as GoogleVoice plus the Gizmo wizzardry in the middle, all wrapped aropund the GIPS audio and video codecs now sitting inside, this all looks like the currrent edition of Hangouts. Basically, Google has built a Skype clone for a lot less money than what Microsoft paid for Skype. A lot less. About $8.7 billion dollars less in round numbers.

And, what Google has done is when you look at sum of the parts of GV and HO together is basically bring "almost free" to calling, at least in the USA as call on-net to the masses terminating or originating on Hangouts and a Google Voice user are now basically settlement free to Google.

But what if you're Skype, with all their might. What does Skype do? Well I would expect them to mount a counterattack and offer massively free calling everywhere. Now wouldn't that change the game?

Think about it in the context of what Skype has done in the post Microsoft era. For starters now that Skype and Microsoft Lync are so intertwined the world of calling between consumer and enterprise isn't that hard, and its free.

Secondly, Skyprosoft has populated the world with servers that are basically in all the countries where traffic goes, providing Skype the ability to map and route calls around the traditional networks far easier today than when Skype started. Add to that LTE and LTE-A getting deployed the world over and you have data networks that are only a few hops away from all the mobile operators data networks so when you add in all that recriprocal compensation and carrier credits MSFT has, free calling everywhere isn't that hard to fathom.

That makes my question rather easy to ponder next. If Skype rolls out free calling everywhere, how far behind will Google be? 


Comcast, Google Going Wireless Is Opportunity for Counterpath + Bandwidth.com

Earlier this week the news about Google exploring adding wireless services in markets where they offer gigabit fiber popped out. Today, The Information (subscription required) points out that Comcast via their sell off of spectrum (along with other cable companies) will have access to wholesale priced 4G/LTE access. Both items give evidence that there is new wireless competition coming.

Google is already cozy with Sprint (the Google Voice integration) as well as with Bandwidth.com for transport. Bandwdth.com is already selling their Wi-Fi + mobile using Sprint's network, which is a great proof of concept. Add to that Bandwidth has a homebrew version of Fixed Mobile Convergence that may touch on or compete with some patents that CounterPath acquired when they picked up the assets of BridgePort Networks some years back. (Note I am an advisor board member for Counterpath and my agency previously provided services to both Bridgeport and Counterpath as well as to Grand Central).

The difference though is the CounterPath patents and technology offers what is known as Voice Call Continuity and enables bi-directional handoff between WiFi and mobile networks. In an all Google world with WiFi hotspots plus fiber, the handover would mean putting the FMC gateway into the networks of both Sprint and Google if Google chose Sprint as their MNO partner, or whichever operators they chose to work with.

In those situations handover would be almost seamless. In the case of Comcast the same approach would apply and Comcast and Verizon each would also need the FMC gateway in their networks. Once the gateways are in place "roaming" between WiFi and the mobile world becomes simple, as the call doesn't drop when you leave one IP universe and traverse to the other. Comcast picking up TimeWarner and how in markets like NYC where there already is massive WiFi deployment, could quickly have a massive mobile customer base there all by itself. The same could be replicated quickly all along the major cities like Philadelphia and Boston where they already have a major presence.

This will take a while to all come into play, but with Google and Comcast looking to play in wireless calling and messaging, VoIP gets hot.