Companies developing Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) solutions are creeping back into the limelight after falling off a cliff in the 2000 telecom meltdown. Part of the renewed focus is thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meetings to debate the future of Internet Telephony (count on government discussion of regulating revolutionary technologies to grab major attention). The FCC wants to examine the issue more closely, as concerns about such things as how the FBI would tap conversations and how E911 calls would be directed properly are unresolved.
The reason for all the regulatory chatter? VOIP technology completely sidetracks the way voice communications are normally done. Traditionally, phone calls are placed on the network of phone lines and switches developed over the last century. But VOIP bypasses this route for calls and directs voice conversations over upgraded data networks. This also means that it bypasses standard methods of levying and taxing voice services.
In the 1990s, the promise of talking cheap (or even free) through a computer led to dramatic rises for stocks such as Net2Phone
The major telecom equipment suppliers -- names such as Lucent
Much like the early days of the electronic telegraph and radio, though, speculators abound in the VOIP realm. At this early stage, it's hard to weed out the hype and justify lofty valuations in some players. Several companies deriving significant business in VOIP -- such as 8x8 Inc.
Dave Mock thinks the height of Internet Telephony speculation will peak when a company changes its ticker symbol to VOIP. He is the author of Tapping into Wireless, and welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.