Verizon admits voice is just an application

Lawrence
Babbio, vice-chairman of Verizon, announced that the telco would start
offering voice over IP to its DSL customers next year:

“VoIP for the mass market is coming,” said Babbio, “and just like with
LNP (local number portability) there is nothing anybody can do to stop
it.” Babbio said Verizon would be very aggressive in meeting or beating
the pricing of any consumer VoIP service. The company is currently
planning a two phase strategy. Phase One, beginning in Q2 2004, will be
a non-QoS consumer VoIP offering that will be positioned as a second
line service for DSL users. Verizon will either outsource the service
or build the application itself. They will offer several plans for
local/LD/international calling, as well as free on-net calling. It will
also include numerous Web-based features, such as a voice portal,
voice-dialing, web-based voicemail, and address book integration. Phase
Two, beginning in Q4 2004, will be a managed network, QoS-based VoIP
service designed to meet Verizon’s traditional wireline quality
standards.

This follows similar announcements by other Bells, though I haven’t
seen this much detail before.  What’s interesting is that Verizon
is evolving toward a DSL and wireless company, rather than a wireline
phone company.  VOIP will be a way to sell DSL, just as Verizon’s
WiFi hotspots at payphones are a way to sell DSL.  And with number
portability, an increasing percentage of Verizon customers will use a
mobile phone for their primary line. 

This is absolutely the right transition for a company like Verizon to
make, though it will be difficult to pull off.  Many of us have
long intoned the mantra that “voice is just another application on
converged data networks.”  We’re finally seeing it happen big
time.