RealTime IT News

Verizon IP Strategy Louder Than Voice

BOSTON -- Verizon today offered additional details about its plan to fend off VoIP competition from the likes of Vonage, Time Warner and AT&T .

The strategy centers on its Iobi platform, which helps subscribers manage calls and messaging across multiple devices.

Users set preferences through Iobi's portal, which can be accessed through any Internet-connected computer or by calling a toll-free, voice-recognition portal.

Verizon bets that users will grow accustomed to the Iobi interface and resist bolting to VoIP rivals -- and taking their broadband business with them.

Verizon's VoiceWing VoIP service is a natural fit with Iobi, but is envisioned as only one important component.

"Iobi is a platform to deliver applications built in-house or by a third party," Mike Hassett, Verizon senior vice president, retail markets product management, said at the Voice Over Net (VON) trade show here today.

Verizon said it's looking to partner with developers who have ideas for applications for Iobi and it's willing to release some API information to do so. Hassett did not specify what types of software the carrier is seeking.

Another aspect of Verizon's effort to stand out involves an extreme makeover of the home phone.

"We are in the process of partnering with manufacturers," Hassett said, adding that Verizon hopes to introduce the first product with embedded Iobi by the second quarter of next year.

The phone will include touch buttons, a wireless router and other features. The concept was inspired in part by the cellular phone and PC battles.

Verizon learned that device design is important to consumers making buying decisions, Hassett said, noting the success of Apple in appealing aesthetically to consumers.

"We think in the long run [the next-generation phone] will be a differentiator for us," said Hassett, noting that ultimately Verizon wants to be the premier provider of data, video and voice services.

Updates prior version to correct spelling of Hassett