Easy router: are proprietary routers and adapters justified?

A new deal between VoIP service SIPphone, Inc. and router maker D-Linkfeatures a $99 dealon D-Link's DVG-1402S Broadband Phone Service VoIP Router.

A new deal between VoIP service SIPphone, Inc. and router maker D-Linkfeatures a $99 dealon D-Link's DVG-1402S Broadband Phone Service VoIP Router.

In announcing the availability of the 1402S, SiPphone CEO (and MP3.com founder) Michael Robertson makes a big deal about the fact that the device has open standards, not restricted to use on or with a specific VoIP service.

That's different than VoIP adapters and routers from other leading manufacturers such as Linksys.For example, most VoIP service providers work with Linksys and some other suppliers to lock the specifichardware they sell from working with other services.

There are financial incentives and some financial incentives forthe proprietary modelto be done, including price subsidies, rebates and pre-sale, test-bed considerations.

But Mike Robertson does not brook that reasoning one iota. Can you imagine if AOL paid Dell to lock modems to their dialup service," he asks."It is unthinkable, and yet that is just what VoIP providers like Vonage are doing with voice adapters."

I see both sides. Routers and adapters are commodity businesses, and it makes perfect sense for a VoIP access provider to want to lock you in.

But in doing so, are they eliminating choice? You know, if you move from say, a Qwest to an SBC service area, your standard land-line phone will, of course,work in your new location.

My hunch is since VoIP is not yet a mass commodity business with tens of millions of users,the proprietary router standards model is seen as one that will create anROI model. It's in the manufacturer's interest, as well as in the service provider's interest to lock you in.

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