In a move to make VoIP more appealing, two wholesalers have partnered to offer ISPs a voice over wireless package (VoIP) that avoids Telstra's copper "last mile".
The partnership will see VoIP wholesale provider, iVox, use the i Burst service of Wireless broadband wholesaler, Personal Broadband Australia (PBA), as one of the connection options it offers to ISPs and resellers.
iVox CEO, Romain Bonjean, said the partnership would solve one of the major challenges of VoIP connectivity by removing the current necessity for most ADSL customers to pay line rental for a POTS connection which was made redundant by VoIP connectivity.
"By packaging iVox's VoIP with iBurst's wireless broadband Internet, we will be able to circumvent this redundant rental, resulting in an annual saving of hundreds of dollars," he said.
"It will be a cheaper quality VoIP package for consumers, which makes it attractive and competitive for resellers."
Bonjean said the move would also channel the iBurst product into the residential market, as it has traditionally been aimed at the business end.
PBA managing director, Jonathan Withers welcomed the partnership.
"Australian consumers have begun to understand the benefits of VoIP telephony, and increasingly seek to include VoIP with their broadband service," he said in a press statement.
Telecommunications analyst, Shara Evans, said while the partnership opened up opportunities for ISPs and resellers, it would have minimal effect on the overall market.
"The effect is more significant for PBA [and iVox] than for the overall market," she said. "Wireless in general has only attracted a small percentage of Australia's nearly three million broadband users."
Evans thinks consumers are still a long way from shifting en masse to VoIP, be it over ADSL or wireless.
"Internet-based VoIP services have yet to prove truly equivalent to the PSTN," she said. " Today, VoIP services lack full connectivity between VoIP networks, VoIP still has regulatory exemptions, and consistent quality of service, as defined by the human ear, is also still problematic for Internet-based VoIP services," she said.
"The other risk point to be considered is that iVox and PBA will be entering an already-crowded market. In our last survey of the VoIP provider market, conducted in early March, we were astonished to find over 100 companies offering VoIP plans, the vast majority of which use the public Internet."
iVox, was formed in 2004 (See story: http://www.arnnet.com.au/index.php?id=1692223361) and now has 16 ISP partners.
Bonjean said he was selective as to who he signed up as a partner.
"Attracting and retaining channel partners is quite easy," he said. "The real struggle is in educating the sales force. Pushing them to push VoIP intelligently as part of a package is very hard."
iVox resellers undergo two days of technical training and consultation before joining up.
"We work very closely with their sales managers in understanding their customer base and determining which product package will suit them best," he said. "We have a highly flexible infrastructure in terms of price and billing, so resellers can determine how they create their own margins."