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The crystal ball proved cloudy on VoIP and 4G

Predictions are only as good as the vendors who can make them come true

Convergence & VoIP Alert By , Network World
December 17, 2010 11:28 AM ET
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VoIP, unified messaging, products and services

Network World - Last year about this time, we offered predictions for 2010, so we’ll look back today and see if our crystal ball was accurate.

We had hoped to see VoIP delivered over a 4G network in 2010, followed next by unified communications applications. Maybe somebody forgot to tell the applications developers, and maybe somebody forgot to tell the handset developers.  Of course we can always point fingers at the standards bodies who dragged their feet to merely define “what is 4G” and who have yet to deliver a final standard for VoIP over 4G.   The 2010 reality: 4G is pretty much only being used for faster mobile Internet connections, relying on dual mode devices that use the 3G network for voice while the data channel takes advantage of 4G speeds.

The good news is that by the end of 2010 in the U.S., Clearwire will have its WiMax network available to about 120 million people, while the Verizon Wireless  LTE network will have been deployed to cover about a third of the population. With 4G footprints expanding into 2011 and beyond, perhaps apps developers, handset manufacturers, and standards bodies will begin to focus on delivering unified communications and collaboration (UCC) over 4G.

As we suggested last year, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking has become more "mainstream" in 2010, with competitors using SIP trunks to retain or win over voice business. Incumbent carriers, who seemed to hide SIP in 2009, have been more transparent in offering SIP trunking and SIP-based unified communications services. Cable companies are making progress with their VoIP portfolios in the business sector and CLECs (who had leading-edge SIP products last year) have continued to expand their SIP footprints and VoIP portfolio.

Speaking of CLECS, we expected to see more consolidation in 2010 and we weren’t disappointed.  Headlining the CLEC consolidation story, COVAD, MegaPath, and Speakeasy joined forces into one company. In other transactions, Windstream acquired NuVox, PAETEC bought Cavalier Telephone, and EarthLink purchased Deltacom.  
In our next edition, we’ll share our predictions for 2011.

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

Steve Taylor is president of Distributed Networking Associates and publisher/editor-in-chief of Webtorials. Larry Hettick, an independent analyst and consultant, is a 30-year industry veteran. He has covered VoIP and UC at Network World for 12 years.

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