Back in 2006, When I had joined TechMahindra, we had the opportunity to meet the then British Telecom’s top brass. One of the major fears that BT’s top management conveyed to us was that Google could move in on BT’s business. There was always some talk about convergence and voice and data networks to come together. All such terms seemed weird and for us this was all new and difficult to digest.
It has been 6 years now, and I can see BT’s fears being realized. The top guys have long since moved on to more greener pastures, voice services have started emerging over data oriented plans. Things such as Virtual PBX, which used to be a voice based product is now being offered over the network. Using the fundamentals of VoIP, suddenly all the previously voice based products, which used to be the stronghold of telecom operators have suddenly started being offered on the internet/network. If you are confused about VoIP, here’s a great article by Chris Pirillo about the same.
The benefits of turning a voice based service into a data service is two-fold.
- Anyone can launch voice based services – sites such as Skype, Jahjah, etc have taken the market by storm. It’s cheaper for the end-user and the entry barriers for service providers has dropped down
- Accessibility to the internet is far more widespread as compared to access to a particular telecom network. This means that I do not have to worry about getting access to Vodafone or 3 network in order to use a particular voice based service. As long as I am connected to the internet, I am good. This increases the ease of convenience for end users, and multiplies the target market size for the service provider.
With convergence, the only major loser are the retail arms of the major telecom operators. With most voice based services now easily available over the internet, an individual customer need not look at purchasing the telephone line. What earlier used to be a necessity in each household, the telephone has slowly lost footing in most houses nowadays … to the point of being relegated to a corner in the household.
With convergence comes a change in way different services are being offered, a change in consumer behaviour and finally it serves as an usher to new technologies.