Lineage a Factor in Picking a VoIP Provider

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Welcome to the VoIP industries.


Companies thinking of deploying VoIP -- in other words, just about every company out there -- should track the great differentiation that stems from the players' divergent backgrounds.


VoIP.com has released an interesting take on how the market is developing. Very broadly speaking, VoIP providers fall into three groups.


The original group, which still is going strong, is solely focused on VoIP. Skype, Vonage and a large collection of smaller players fill this bill.


The second group is the cable operators. They long ago realized that they are well-positioned to offer voice services.


Bringing up the rear are the established phone companies. This group has suddenly realized that it needs a stopgap IP voice adjunct to capture as many customers abandoning its core services as possible.


VoIP.com's piece focuses on pricing. That's important, of course, but not the only concern. Companies considering making the move to VoIP should be aware of the baggage that each carries. For instance, the telephone companies essentially are being forced to play the VoIP game. It's a defensive strategy. On the positive side, however, these folks have a century of experience in billing, fulfillment and other vital procedures that are not directly related to IP networking.


Likewise, the pure plays have their own issues: They are innovators and entrepreneurs who largely are responsible for the industry's very existence. But they generally are smaller and don't have the operational or financial infrastructure of either the cable or phone companies.


For their part, the cable companies are making great gains, perhaps because they carry none of the obvious drawbacks of the other two. Keep in mind, though, that these are, after all, cable companies.


Different industries bring different things to the VoIP party. Smart businesses should ask not only which features prospective providers offer, but where they come from.