Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Daiwa EuroTelcoblog No. 24, Tuesday, 24th Feb: Various topics around the unfolding VoIP story in Europe (original email blast 1:53 PM Tuesday, 24th February, 2004)

OFCOM numbering consultation

About 30 minutes ago UK super-regulator OFCOM just released a consultation on numbering issues for Voice over Broadband (VoB). We've only just skimmed it so far, but it includes a lengthy discussion of whether the allocation of geographic numbers to VoB service providers who are not traditional telephony providers will lead to consumer confusion. We expect that issues of consumer protection (is it a primary line replacement? is it an ancillary service? will consumers know the difference without a special numbering plan?) may arise consistently across Europe as services roll out. The document is here http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/current/vobs/ and comes just ahead of the not-quite-entirely public meeting on VoB to be conducted by OFCOM in London tomorrow.

TeliaSonera lends a helping hand to analysts

Six minutes after the OFCOM message arrived, we received an invitation from TeliaSonera to a special meeting dedicated to understanding VoIP. The meeting is apparently being held in response to "great demand and interest we have seen lately from financial analysts to learn more about the technology behind Voice over IP and to understand TeliaSonera's strategy and business in this regard." If you have the kind of employer who will fund a trip to Stockholm for a one-hour meeting, here are the details. There is no sign of it being webcast, though if we hear of such a plan, we will advise.

Date: Friday, March 12, 2004

Time: 10.00

Venue: Sibeliussalen, Finlandshuset, Snickarbacken 4, Stockholm

Presenter: Mr Kennet Rådne, Senior Vice President,
Corporate Fixed Voice Products and Services

Skype launches conference calling feature

Yesterday Skype launched its first enhanced feature, a free conference calling function for up to five people, and an additional feature allowing up to 16 Skype callers to be put on hold simultaneously. Last week we had a meeting with Skype's CEO in which he outlined this and a number of other ongoing developments, some of which were featured in The Business last Sunday - a USB cordless phone device which will take the Skype user interface away from being a PC-to-PC product, as well as some other software-related developments which will increase the mobility factor of the service. We also believe that PSTN connectivity is not too far away in technical terms, though the regulatory issues in our view may be considerably more complex, even in the wake of the positive FCC ruling on the Pulver petition. However, as we tried to stress in our recent sector piece, we are not convinced that lack of PSTN connectivity is necessarily such a big deterrent to user uptake as some might think. Skype is generating 15 new user registrations every minute on average. The bigger it (and/or something like it) becomes, arguably the less the PSTN matters, at least to the individual user. Hold on to yer hats telcos, we're in for a rough ride.

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