Monday, November 15, 2004

A uniquely German VoIP

As expected/feared, German national regulator RegTP has taken the unusual step of allowing VoIP service providers to issue geographic numbers (German version), but only if the customer receiving the number actually lives in, or operates a business in, the area to which the number relates. Top quote: "...local numbers will not be decoupled from locality in any case." That's pretty definitive. There goes one of the principal selling points of the VoIP proposition - flexibility. For any foreign companies hoping to set up virtual phone numbers in Germany, it looks like you will have to open up a branch office there first, at considerably greater cost. This makes me even more intrigued to see what interesting definition RegTP might come up with for "naked DSL". Perversely, it's just this sort of regulatory obfuscation which makes us (from the stock-picking perspective) relatively more positive on Deutsche Telekom than on some of its neighbors, but this is probably also going to deprive the access-independent VoIP crowd of an important part of their German business model, and send some consumers rushing into the arms of Skype wherever possible.

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