Chris Kranky

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CallVantage, nope tried that

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

AT&T announced the shuttering of their CallVantage
consumer VoIP service after several years of operation. The launch of
CallVantage was made with great fanfare, touting a number of unique features
built after AT&T spent millions of dollars building all the underlying technology
from the ground up. AT&T then went on to spend millions of dollars
promoting the service and working various retail angles.

VoIP has had a tough ride. First, when it worked, it was difficult
to make work using H.323 and then with the switch to SIP, it just stopped working
altogether. Then it started working but the broadband infrastructure was so
horrid, the voice quality was sketchy. Now that consumer broadband can easily accommodate
VoIP, consumer’s have decided they really don’t need a home telephone line
after all.

 AT&T after much marketing effort managed to get only
about 55,000 subscribers, which if you figure $35 a month ARPU, generated a
$20-25 million a year business. In the world of AT&T Wireless where even a mediocre
wireless handset can sell 100,000 units in a month the tiny VoIP business just
simply wasn’t worth the effort. Add on the likely weekly VoIP patent troll who
showed up at AT&T’s door with some obscure patent infringement and it’s not
hard to see that an executive decision was easy to make.

Vzhub Verizon shut down their Voicewing but reasoned consumers
really wanted a “cool device” that was more than a phone. Verizon is now
spending millions on product development and advertising to tout the new Voice Hub. What you
don’t hear them touting is how many subscribers they have? Why? 2 months into
the launch, they likely don’t have many users. Of course, Verizon would say not
that many customers ‘yet’ holding out hope.

But the fundamental issue is consumer’s have seen the
utility of a home telephone diminish and often when the opportunity presents
itself, drop the service with little fanfare.

Sadly, both AT&T and Verizon struggle to accept that the
pinnacle for voice wire line telephony has passed.

T-Mobile’s @Home VoIP service is doing well. It’s sold as an
inexpensive utility for $10 a month and easy for people to say “sure why not”. Basically
it’s an add-on to your wireless plan. Good marketing by the alternative player.