By Sharla Sikes
When VoIP became a widely accepted form of communication, it was mostly offered by a host of small, independent service providers. As popular adoption of the service grew, the larger telecommunications companies began targeting their slice of the pie, too.
Today we have a mix; some of the startups have gone under, but many independents remain as well as the big telecoms. The same holds true in the market for VoIP software.
Is that going to change soon?
A flurry of acquisitions indicates that more and more of those independents may be leaving the marketplace.
“VoIP is no longer next generation telephony, it is here now, and 2008 should see strategic acquisitions of independent software developers and ISPs by large telcos looking to consolidate their VoIP offerings,” says Sarika Patel, head of technology at Grant Thornton.
Patel lists Luminson and NDO, Prodigy Networks, Fast.co.uk, Firefly Internet and Breathe Networks as some of the independents expected to become targets of acquisition-minded corporations in the United Kingdom.
The same wave of acquisitions may not occur in the United States, since â€œSimple access accounts will add little value for telcos building fiber-based triple play networks or cable companies that compete with telcos,â€ according to TMC.
In the past, most large telecoms offering traditional voice services hesitated to compete with their own products by pushing VoIP services. Today we might be at a â€œtipping point,â€ where the widespread adoption of VoIP makes it a soundâ€”if not necessaryâ€”business direction.