Voice service may seem passé, but in the IP-realm, voice services are suddenly hot again, fueled by a number of trends, including business interest in unified communications and the rise of hosted and cloud-based voice offerings.
As a result, we are seeing a rise in M&A activity in the voice networking realm. Witness today's acquisition news from Mitel Networks Corp. and 8x8 Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT), on the heels of last month's acquisition of Vocalocity by Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG). (See Vonage Acquires Vocalocity for $130M, Mitel to Buy Aastra for C$392M and 8x8 Acquires UK's Voicenet.)
And as I noted last month, the rise of interest in IP voice is driving expansion by competitive network operators in SIP trunking and other services as well. (See Comptel a Sunny Spot This Fall.)
What will be interesting to see is how and whether there is real innovation in how IP voice is delivered, and what it is capable of doing. One reason for highlighting a specific player like Bandwidth.com , as I did last week, is that they are looking at how voice services and even basic assets, such as phone numbers, can be used in a creative way. (See Bandwidth Bringing Profits Back to Voice.)
Already we are seeing hosted voice serve the SMB community better and more efficiently, and integrate wireline and wireless services in the way fixed-mobile convergence once promised. What else can we expect to see?
Who will do the innovating here? The OTT apps folks? The VoIP service providers? Device makers? Let me know what you think.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading