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Google-AOL: The First Step to VoIP Interoperability?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 21, 2005

Word is that now that Google has purchased a stake in AOL, the two companies will allow their VoIP services’ users to talk to each other.

The end result of that, in my opinion, is two fold. To begin with, this interoperability should give the two companies an advantage over rival Instant Messenger-like VoIP services offered by Skype, MSN and Yahoo. Google, in particular, is likely to benefit: Until now, many Internet users might have hesitated to use Google’s VoIP service for fear that they’d be left out of communications loop since all of their friends used AOL Instant Messenger (IM). Now, they won’t have to worry about that.

Longer term, I believe that this agreement will push all VoIP industry heavyweights to make their IM-like VoIP services interoperable. Remember, years ago, if you were a Verizon Wireless customer, you could only send short text messages (SMS) to other Verizon customers. You couldn’t send an SMS to Cingular customers. That hampered SMS adoption, and so, eventually, all wireless service providers got together and allowed for cross-carrier texting. That led to an explosion in SMS use.

I think that if all IM-like VoIP services reach a similar interoperability agreement, they will reap the same, huge benefits. Perhaps the AOL-Google agreement will show just how much users crave the capability and will hasten this process. Do you agree?

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Reader Comments


December 21, 2005 11:57 PM

You state, "years ago, if you were a Verizon Wireless customer, you could only send short text messages (SMS) to other Verizon customers. You couldn't send an SMS to Cingular customers. That hampered SMS adoption, and so, eventually, all wireless service providers got together and allowed for cross-carrier texting. That led to an explosion in SMS use."

Is there any speculation that MMS will also come around, whereby multiple carriers can send/recieve audio/video to each other as well? This includes a windows media file being able to be sent to a iPod or other wireless IP device? Can we do a story on that?


December 22, 2005 03:13 AM

Interesting Read and a much greater and different perspective.

The $1b deal was more geared to the search and advertising, but if you step back and look at the picture as a whole, Google does have more services that can be used. Video, Imagery, Maps, Gmail(AOL recently released a 2gig inbox to all AIM users and the public.), Analytics, Desktop, GTalk, etc...

AOL's AIM and Microsoft's MSN Messenger have access to a combined 200 million users(Source:Reuters). Now if GTalk's voip (who have very few users in comparison) actually had some interoperabiliy with AOL's IM network, more people would start using the voip service.

Simple reason why Google went for AOL, more public exposure.

On a (wishful) final note, just wait until a Google releases an Operating System =P
Then it'll be a true war between Microsoft and Google.

Jim Dermitt

December 22, 2005 10:05 AM

The voip deal works something like this.
JetBlue uses voip for reservation agent system. Microsoft supports JetBlue-JetBlue supports paying customers who get less expensive JetBlue airfare. Voip saves the people flying JetBlue money while giving them better service.

I don't know what Google AOL solution will be or who will save money, but you can't give away high value services or products and stay in business. If it keeps airfare or some other service more affordable it will be worth it. If it improves service that's icing on the cake. Voip works now.
Google should find plenty of customers. Check with the travel agents first.

Ethan Z. Davis

December 22, 2005 10:43 AM

Googles-AOL play will open doors for internet advertising but the VoIP play is weak. The dot com's VoIP offerings appeal to only the most tech/internet savy consumers. VoIP products are ready for mass markets but Yahoo, Google, Aol and like providers are only prepared to offer VoIP services that add value to their engines, instant messengers and media. The service offered by the dot com's are not strong enough to enter into the fray with ILEC's, MSO's and VoIP pioneers (Packet8, Vonage) who offer lines of service that appeal to the masses. To address the question, interoperability may be on the horizen but not because users crave the fuctionality. If its new then it will get noticed so it has marketing value but products like this will not hold the attention of users who if given the choice will pick up the phone and dial. VoIP is here to stay but my bet is on the ILEC's, MSO's, and independant providers that have manipulated the technology to fit the consumer rather then dot com's who can only hope to change the consumer's habits in order retain subscribers / users. Quick, everyone tell your POTS (plain old telephone service) to VoIP off but find a real provider who meets your needs.


December 27, 2005 04:03 PM

The user that says AOL talk is the same as GOOGLE, MSN and Yahoo obviously is unaware that AOL offers a true carrier class VOIP service that competes not with other IM voice protocols but DIRECTLY WITH VZ,BLS, and other carriers like VONAGE. Now should GOOGLE GET serious and make an offering that truly introduced CARRIER CLASS voice to its google voice- which as far as I know is just another voice over internet SKYPE type poor quality service.

Now AOL uses its own private backbone that it leases Long Distance broadband pipes from LVLT (LEVEL THREE) to circumnavigate-only ATT Callvantage, Vonage, and Earthlink, and a few others offer true VOICE OVER IP that offers carrier class quality.SOOO, if GOOGLE wants to go to war with both MSFT and VERIZON and BLS- I for one would be the first to say- not to confuse anyone-YAHOOO!! Yahoo of course also offers only an internet skype quality voice...

If and when voice over internet like AOLs comes to GOOGLE the buzz of the GOOGLE name might get a few of the scaredy cats to try VOIP that is CARRIER CLASS- I have been running CALLVANTAGE from ATT for 2 years and it works great- since AOL uses the EXACT same equipment provider for its switching gear as does CAllvantage as does Earthlink if GOOGLE were to start to buy from that vendor it would certainly signal the true starting bell for carrier quality VOIP- DO NOT EXPECT THE RBOCS to beg you to switch to a service the make the same or less money on than their current POTS lines- ONLY a GOOGLE OR AOL will force them to admit that you can get the VERY SAME QUALITY for 30 dollars a month less- oh and that pays for your cable BB or DSL service- need a reason to try VOIP there it is!

BP- Massachusetts


December 3, 2006 09:05 PM

i need a voip connection to call US, i am in india, Bangalore. i need to call US. which one you suggest for me.


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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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