VOIP services

BT Launches Web Communications Hub

LONDON – New Telco: Europe 2006 – BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is preparing to take on the mighty online services giants such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) with a Web-based, integrated multimedia communications service called BT Contact that can be accessed on multiple devices via multiple platforms.

BT Contact, still in beta testing, is a free Web-based service that enables users to aggregate contact information from existing sources, and then use that contact directory to launch a VOIP call, instant messaging (IM) session, SMS text message, or email. The carrier says it will work on PCs and, eventually, mobile devices, and across any network connection, fixed or mobile. Also, BT Contact isn't limited to BT customers.

The operator revealed its plans here at the Light Reading Live! "New Telco: Europe 2006" event, where Stephen Stokols, director of strategy at BT Retail, told the audience of more than 150 service providers and enterprises that BT has embraced the concept of software-based, rather than network-based, services.

Michel Burger, CTO of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Communications Group, and a keynote speaker at the London event, told LRTV that this kind of offering is exactly what carriers should be doing. "They ignored the Web," but they can't ignore Web-based services, said Burger, because they directly compete with the carrier's own network-based offerings.

"It's pretty awesome, and they're doing it for free," says Gabriel Brown, chief analyst for Light Reading's Insider report service. "They're punting it out there to see how it goes. Telcos don't normally do stuff like that. The general concept is good, but initially it's just a PC-based service. The sooner this gets on mobile the better."

The service also enhances Web searches by not only delivering search results, but offering a click-to-call or click-to-email capability alongside any results that are businesses. For example, if someone is searching for a local sports center, the ability to call that center would come up with the result and the user would be able to save the contact details into their contact list.

The two great differences for BT with this service is that it's not subscription-based and it also deploys third-party services and applications. For example, if a user prefers to use Skype Ltd. for his or her VOIP services, then launching a VOIP call would launch a Skype session.

"People are transitioning to services such as VOIP, IM, and other such Comms 2.0 services," noted Stokols. "BT doesn't have a significant position in Comms 2.0 at the moment, but a window still exists for us to build that position because we have the brand recognition and an installed base of 18 million households. Most of the mass market has yet to migrate to Comms 2.0."

So how will BT make money from this personal communications hub? "This is all about getting as many people as possible to use the service, and then maybe we can make some advertising dollars from it," said Stokols.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:38:43 AM
re: BT Launches Web Communications Hub So, Johnny Come Lately BT expects to use "their" pipes to compete with Web 2.0 because their legacy features are being virtualized away. They get dragged into this new paradigm kicking screaming at the 11th hour, and then expect to successfully compete via yesterday's me-too services.

Like the folks at GOOG are brain-dead or sitting still. The folks at BT have no idea what they are getting into. This will be an expensive failure unless they block GOOG and others from "their" network.

It is the original falicy of the Internet all over again. The Net was developed without a revenue model. It is attacking an existing revenue model with a superior service. The holders of that decaying revenue model are fighting back, either by copycat methods or by attempted monopoly tactics.

All the while, we manage to never have an open debate about what is really going on, or how to best go forward for ALL concerned. We would rather pump precious dollars down a rat-hole than build a truly workable future with the same money.
jasanz 12/5/2012 | 3:38:43 AM
re: BT Launches Web Communications Hub Actually, I saw the BT presentation today and it does not look like a bad idea... BT are trying to come up with a web portal that integrates "the others" and can facilita access to "the others". We have seen stories in the past (Terra portal, for example) of a Service Provider creating a webservice with lots of traffic, forums, auctions, news... etc...

From this web portal to start selling "advertising a-la-Google" there is a little steps... And if BT starts selling their broadband software that makes the default home page "BT Connect"... it should be pretty easy to gain customer traction.

I like the idea. BT is bringing the war to the own turf of Google and Yahoo. Service Providers talk about IMS and try to come up with "services" to make money and protect themselves from the other online players. BT is going to DO IT.

It is brave and it is nice to see this Service Provider DOING SOMETHING, instead of being a sitting duck talking about "IMS services" and "business cases for IMS"...

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