Tuesday, March 08, 2005

ITSPA Parliamentary reception

Tonight I attended the Parliamentary reception for the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association (ITSPA) of the UK. There were around 100 people present, mainly from industry (as well as a few journalists). As usual, there were no sell-side analysts present, a trend I have noticed where any remotely interesting issue is involved.

There were a few short speeches, of which the gists were thus:

Claire Hobson of DTI: DTI is very positive on VoIP in terms of the benefits it may offer consumers and business. With UK broadband availability now among the highest in the G7, DTI views VoIP as another important catalyst for broadband adoption.

Andrew Heaney of OFCOM: OFCOM views this as the start of a fruitful relationship between itself and the new voice service providers. The ITSPA has engaged with OFCOM proactively to identify key issues and then drill down into the detail as regards policy implications. The ITSPA has also played a key role in identifying issues relating to consumer protection, and its code of practice serves as an important complement and extension to OFCOM's own stance on new voice services.

Kim Thesiger of Gossiptel highlighted the fact that, as recently as a year ago, the industry possessed abundant enthusiasm but no coordination in either operational or policy areas. The industry is characterized by intense innovation and cross-pollenation between telecom and internet, and ensuring that this nascent industry has a chance to compete fairly is key.

Eli Katz of XConnect lamented the fact that, while broadband availability in the UK may indeed be relatively high, UK voice-over-broadband users account for only round 10 - 15k of the estimated total (ex-Skype) 10m user base. It is imperative that the UK maintain a position in this area commensurate with its place in broadband.

I met a few interesting new people, and touched base with a few familiar others. One thing I noticed was that AOL's representation was somewhat larger than that of any other single organization...

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