Connecting The Dots: Verizon, Delta Three & Panasonic

Om Malik suggests that Verizon’s shutdown of their VoiceWing residential VoIP service could be the end of Delta three. When I first started experimenting with VoIP Delta Three was flying high, and I looked at their I Connect Here offering briefly. They managed to land some very interesting deals, including Verizon’s ill-fated Voice Wing and a partnership with Panasonic called JoIP.

panasonic-globarange-bb-gt1540bJoIP was particularly interesting as Panasonic is a leader in cordless phones. When they decided to make their Globarange VoIP capable systems they also decided to offer them only with a bundled service. This was truly a pity since Panasonic makes great hardware. Even better than the Siemens Gigaset range, although that’s only my opinion.  If they’d made SIP capable phones with user accessible account management I’d own a bunch of them for sure.

Instead they offered a few models that only worked with JoIP and, quite rightly, no-one showed any interest at all. JoIP was a spectacular flop. I wonder if the Panasonic JoIP phones can be unlocked for use with other SIP providers? Or perhaps Panasonic will have a change of heart and open up end-user configuration of the Globarange systems.

In contrast Siemens does operate a Gigaset portal that includes a free VoIP registrar. Gigaset users can call each other for free using a Gigaset number. I called VUC’s Randulo this way once, but the call quality was terrible even though we both were using S685/675IP phones. Ultimately this is inconsequential since Gigaset users can configure the phones for any SIP service provider.

For being such a major player in consumer electronics, and cordless phone in particular, it does seem odd that Panasonic has effectively no presence in consumer VoIP hardware.

Update: A quick use of Google reveals some press releases indicating that JoIP was started in early 2008, later than I thought. It also reveals that the service was troubled essentially from the start, but the trouble seems to be solely on the ITSP end of things.

If Delta Three falls it raises an interesting question for Panasonic. People who bought the Globarange phones were promised three years of free calling service between Globarange users and access to low cost IP calling plans.