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Heavy Reading Report Redefines VoIP Disruption

There has been a lot of confusion about the disruptive potential of VoIP innovation. Although announcements about supposedly disruptive new VoIP-based technologies or services occur regularly, somehow the dominant telecom carriers manage to remain dominant. In fact, their toughest competitors are other types of dominant carriers. At present, the three most powerful classes of competitors in telecommunications are landline, mobile and cable telephony providers, and all three employ conventional commercial and technical models. Although cable providers use VoIP, in every other way they are themselves traditional telcos.

In reality, telecommunications in general and VoIP in particular are too complex to fit the standard definitions of disruptive innovation. Even major VoIP innovations don't necessarily result in the disruption of the telecom services market. To the contrary, a given innovation can help incumbent carriers as much as it hurts them. At the same time, factors that have nothing to do with technological innovation can have major impact on the market positions of incumbents. As a result, understanding the true disruptive potential of VoIP innovation requires a new definition of disruption that explains how some innovations disrupt while others don't.

I recently detailed such a definition and related concepts in a report I've been working on for analyst firm Heavy Reading for the past several month. The report, which is now available for purchase, describes the changes VoIP innovation brings to telephony models, practices and concepts. It also analyzes 17 categories of potentially disruptive VoIP services and the impact they are likely to have on the telecom services market as a whole. Finally, it profiles 50 potentially disruptive companies and services. Information about the report has been posted on the Heavy Reading Website.


On a converged network, disruption is the main problem facing many telecommunications providers. But with the introduction of the asynchronous frequencies, VoIP has become smoother.

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