Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The opposite of hype

One week ahead of VON Europe (I'll be there, as one of few non-Swedes on the bill on the morning of day one) and the inevitable barrage of press releases, I had dinner last night with Dean and TJ from VoipUSER. It was refreshing to hear their view of things, driven, as it is, by a love of the technology and a genuine enthusiasm for spreading the word, rather than a commercial agenda or world domination aspirations. The site is a rallying point for advocates/developers, a point of entry for newcomers, and a testbed for new ideas. In other words, it's not a million miles away from the Skype forums, albeit on a smaller scale, and devoted to open source (incidentally, watch this space).

I am also interested to see how their self-funding community outbound service develops. Users are issued with an 0844 number in the UK, which generates GBP0.03 per minute in revenue, which is then used to purchase outbound minutes for the community to use. As I write this, the community (around 7,000 users) has c.22k minutes on account. The other aspect I think is interesting is the potential to push this service further out into the world. VoIPUSER already peers with FreeWorldDialup and Gossiptel, the latter of which is a charter member of XConnect, which makes me wonder about the scope for peering with other members. One message I have been trying to share with our clients for years now is not to underestimate small players with agendas different from the orthodoxy. This may be another case in point.

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