Tuesday, March 8, 2005

VON Keynote: Following the Money

The digital revolution certainly changed life in the 80s and 90s, but VoIP could lead to the biggest changes yet, said Stewart Alsop, General Partner, New Enterprise Associates, in a keynote address at VON Spring. Alsop believes VoIP will lead to the complete deconstruction of the telephone system and all it entails. He doesn't buy the notion that voice is just a commodity but rather that customers will be empowered to decide which services they want and from whom they wish buy them.

Alsop predicted a number of prominent deaths, starting with the RBOCs. "The wireline telephone companies are toast.. everything about their business will lead them into the ground," he said, arguing that the incumbents are just not smart enough to really understand the consumer. Ditto for cable operators and satellite TV providers, and, to a lesser extent, mobile network operators. Here at least, Alsop conceded that cellular networks would retain the strategic advantage of ubiquity while hopefully improving their customer satisfaction ratings. He's betting on third party VoIP services and VoIP over WiFi.

Alsop and his firm are big investors in Vonage and Boingo Wireless.


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