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VoIP News Roundup for Nov. 19, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

1. PhoneGnome Goes VoIP 2.0
Tons of upgrades since the last version. Now it has free membership and is free-to-call within the PhoneGnome member community. The hardware now becomes optional, and is being offered cheaper. There's no software required either, as all calls are initiated to your phone from your personal PG webpage, pretty much like how Jajah bridges two phones with VoIP. This could be something worth checking out. If PhoneGnome doesn't require a minimum amount of use to remain an active member, Jajah will lose its raison d'ĂȘtre unless it continues to innovate.

2. Google Maps gets Click-to-call
The much hyped click-to-call feature is here, and Google's footing the bill:
Here's how it works: Search for a business, like a hardware store, on Google Maps, and click the 'call' link next to its phone number. Then, enter your phone number and click 'Connect For free.' Google calls your phone number and automatically connects you to the hardware store.
Looks pretty neat, at least for all those non-Skype users. They can already get click-to-call installed with Skype 3.0.

3. X-Series Symbian Phones will use iSkoot
I mentioned the 3 Group and Skype announcement of the X-Series mobile broadband initiative, but the required Symbian phones aren't running Skype after all. Instead, Om Malik says they will run iSkoot, a 3rd pary application that is compatible with Skype:
You see what happened was that iSkoot, a Cambridge, MA.-based company cut a deal with 3g wireless service provider, 3, part of the Hutchison empire. As part of that deal, 3 would install iSkoot in some of its handsets including two Symbian based phones, the Nokia N73 and Sony Ericsson W950. iSkoot is not an official Skype product, and despite a tepid endorsement by Skype, and its capabilities, cannot be qualified as Skype for Symbian.
But since Skype is endorsing this with their logo, most users will never know the difference.

4. Canada deregulates VoIP services
Mark Evans has the Canadian perspective on this move that reverses a decision made by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC):
So what does this decision mean? For one, incumbent carriers will be able to offer VoIP service at any price they want without having to seek approval regulatory approval. As a result, you can expect Bell Canada to become much more aggressive on pricing while ILECs such as Telus, Manitoba Tel and SaskTel will get into the VoIP market after sitting on the sideline until the regulatory uncertainty was resolved.
With lower prices though, the barrier to entry gets higher and startups with new ideas might not get off the ground. Pros and cons for both sides, but a decision has been made and we'll soon start seeing the effects.


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