Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 29, 2007
Following on the heels of an investment from chipmaker Intel, Web-calling company Jajah just announced an infusion from Deutsche Telekom. This is the first time for a telco to invest into a Web-calling company — arguably, a rival. After all, telcos have long looked at Web-calling outfits the way the music industry had looked at Napster. Hint: That look was not of the friendly variety.
Clearly, that’s changing. DT will allow Jajah, 70% of whose customers’ calls are international, to use its network to connect calls at a lower rate (Unlike some rivals, Jajah actually pays carriers for use of their networks). Jajah software will also be integrated into DT’s infrastructure to allow for faster call connections.
But it’s R&D work between DT and Jajah that might end up giving Jajah a major competitive advantage over other Web-calling programs like Skype in the U.S. and abroad. In Germany, the two companies plan to co-develop toll-free, click-to-call software for use on DT’s online customer support sites, says Trevor Healy, Jajah’s CEO. The technology will allow users to click on a button of a Web site to have their home or mobile phones patched through directly into DT’s customer service center.
Healy doesn’t say much about possible work between T-Mobile USA and Jajah. But it’s easy to imagine Jajah helping T-Mobile users make cheap international calls. The software could also, perhaps, be used with T-Mobile’s upcoming At-Home service, due to launch in June and allowing for seamless hand-offs between cellular and home Wi-Fi networks.
I believe DT is the first of many telcos to come who will, instead of fighting Web-calling rivals, embrace them. It’s long been rumored that Verizon is suing Vonage because it simply wants to acquire that company. Well, the DT deal could signal that if Verizon doesn’t hurry up, some other telco will.