The tracks of my tiers: why residential VoIP is a lot like cable tv

I'm now home from the Spring VON 2005 Conference & Expo. There was much to learn, to digest,to assimilate.

I'm now home from the Spring VON 2005 Conference & Expo. There was much to learn, to digest,to assimilate.

When it comes to residential VoIP, I'm seized by how much the emerging pricing model seems to resemble the tiered-approach of cable television.

In cable tv, of course, you can subscribe to basic channel plans, select one or more paid services,or order digital cable with hundreds of additional channels. In fact,my most recent cable plan included everything from recorded bluegrass music to channels about aircraft.

Residential VoIP'smarketing starts with the appeal of low,flat-rate pricing. With little to differentiate the calling plans of the topproviders,however, the marketing then follows a trajectory of value-added services. These services are likely to be the same ones that traditional PSTN networks offer - call waiting, three-way calling, caller ID and the like.

For the consumer, the availability of additional services provides assurances that the calling amenities theyhave been conditioned to expect will still be with them should they decide to switch to VoIP.

For the carriers, these services offer the promise of additional revenues.Until massive numbers kick in, it will be hard for these companies to maximizeincome by subscription revenue alone. So residentialVoIP providers will be faced with a decision about how many additional services to bundle in with base subscription costs, and how many boutique services to add on at say,an extra $2-$5 a month.

Or, as I predict we'll see more of soon, pretty much all available added services for a higher stipend on top of the basic sub fee.

Sound familiar? This is a lot like cable television.

Agree? Disagree? Let's get a TalkBack thread going here.