Verizon Wireless was for a long time the most conservative U.S. carrier. It did everything it could to keep even mildly disruptive applications and services off of its network and handsets. In the last year, though, it has claimed to be changing, saying it planned to make its network as open as possible. In October it said it would introduce two handsets running the Google-developed Android operating system, and with Google Voice installed. It subsequently announced a deal with Google to jointly develop and sell products, including such Android-based devices. Now it appears set to announce a deal with Skype.
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There were more advances than true innovations in the VoIP world in 2009. That's because some of the most important developments had more to do with commercial and political maneuvers than with technical creativity. Still, such maneuvers often helped spread the benefits of VoIP as much as did technical innovation. And collectively, the advances brought some already-evident trends into clearer focus. A key such trend is the increasing integration of voice with other applications and services. Another is the intensifying interest in HD voice. A third is the growing interconnection of VoIP services, in part in response to the possibilities that end-to-end HD voice offers. With such trends as background, here, in no particular order, are our top 25 VoIP advances of 2009.
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Vonage's newly announced iPhone application is a great money maker even before its launch. Simply announcing that the application had won App Store approval sent the Internet telephony pioneer's stock up 36 percent. The problem is, no one knows what the app will do. The company is saying nothing about it "for competitive reasons." But whatever it ends up doing, it will likely be far from earthshaking.
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It's clear that the FCC's emphasis has changed
dramatically under President Obama. Most notably, the agency has become a lot
more serious about increasing openness and competition in the telecommunications
industry. One part of its effort is a strong push for network neutrality in
general – that is, for mandating that Internet providers treat all traffic
equally, to legally prevent them from blocking or degrading services that
compete with theirs. Another part is a focus on the mobile communications
business in particular. VoIP will be central to that part of the effort.
Continue reading "VoIP Central to FCC Wireless Inquiries Under Obama" »