In his keynote speech at the Connections Digital Home Conference, Cisco-Linksys President Charlie Giancarlo talked about the blurring of lines between consumer electronics devices and the rapid growth of VOIP among the average population.
After establishing how consumers have taken to the emergence of broadband—more than 115 million globally—and the new get-it-now environment in which phones like the Motorola Ojo have been supplemented with video, or the cable company also providing broadband phone service and Internet service, Giancarlo said the next step is to make the entire broadband experience more "feature-rich."
"Broadband has been in the early phases over the last five years… call it the Dilbert phase," he said. "Now were moving to the Blondie and Dagwood period," meaning the average household is staring to adopt it, as well.
To go the "late majority phase," he said, wherein consumers can use the TV as a hub to share photos, listen to music or get TV channels on demand, its vital to give the customers the ability to access things as immediately as possible and as simply as possible.
But voice over IP, Giancarlo said, is changing everything.
Its inexpensive; its carries a host of features such as call-waiting and three-way calling, and consumers can have a number with any area code.
The most interesting part of the service, he said, was the rapid rate of consumer adoption, offering predictions that more than 60 million people worldwide will have VOIP by 2009, and over half of America will sign up for broadband phone services by 2010.
As for the recent problems for VOIP customers and 911 emergency service, Giancarlo says thats a problem that free-standing companies like Vonage and Skype will have to deal with, labeling them as "secondary line services."
Cable companies, on the other hand, have been busy planning full primary line service, with 911, wiretapping, handicapped services and battery back-up, as well.
Its a shame, he added, that recent FCC proceedings on VOIP have been paying lots of attention to the fact that broadband voice is just one of many services.
"If I was a terrorist, I would use IM because there are no wiretap laws for instant messaging."
Linksys has been gearing up its product line for its upcoming digital home revolution.
In addition to providing routers with voice ports, which allow users to hook up regular phones to make calls over broadband, the company will soon release a Wi-Fi VOIP phone, a video-based media adapter and other "next generation" video communications devices.