U.S. Patent 7,701,883 - Telephone number binding in a voice-over-internet system
The invention relates to using an existing phone number as an identifier for a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) endpoint, where the existing phone number remains active in the PSTN domain (telecom domain) in a "normal" way, while also being used as the identifier in a (parallel) VoIP domain. In this model, the VoIP service "appropriates" the number (legally and legitimately) without requiring any cooperation of the PSTN domain (telecomm operators). The VoIP service does not require the PSTN network to participate or cooperate - the telephone number appropriation occurs without their knowledge in a legal, reliable, and legitimate manner.
Why it's disruptive? It enables "unbundling at the edge", without regulatory approval or constraints, opening up competition to new players. It overcomes all the objections typically aimed at VoIP services, particularly for primary landline replacement. It also undermines the pricing structure of many existing high-margin (yet technically trivial) services. You can also modify the behaviour of existing services. For example, the number for directory service (e.g. 411) can be re-directed to a rival ad-funded directory operator, instead of the incumbent fixed line operator. For much less than the cost of an IMS deployment, you can hand out low-cost CPE devics, and build a platform business with far more features than could ever be deployed in IMS, and deploy them within weeks, not years. Opportunities for Telcos? If you're a fixed operator, compete out-of-territory against rivals. If you're a mobile operator, enter the FMC market with simple combinatorial services and without the nightmare of user-provisioned WiFi equipment and network handoffs.
We see this intellectual property being of interest to companies such as Google, Apple, HTC, Siemens, and related competing firms.
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