Five cable operators in the Netherlands with more than seven
million customers are banding together to bypass the incumbent,
KPN, for VoIP telephony.
The operators, which currently have more than 500,000
digital phone customers, have awared a VoIP peering contract to
a partnership of XConnect, a provider of VoIP interconnection
services, and Kayote Networks, which makes equipment for
routing and peering.
Ultimately the project, if it works, could knock a big hole
in KPN's fixed-line revenue. The five operators, UPC
Netherlands, Casema, MultiKabel, Essent and CaiW, have 95% of
Dutch households for their cable TV services, and have three
million internet customers.
"Our digital telephone business is growing at 50,000 a
month," said Sikko de Graaf, director of CaiW, on behalf of the
consortium of five.
At the moment calls within individual operators remain VoIP
all the way — but they have not until now been able to
exchange calls from operator to operator except via KPN as
"We're going to run a pilot with 3,000-4,000 users," said de
Graaf. "Then each cable operator individually will decide what
it can offer."
But he hinted strongly that companies might decide to make
all calls from one VoIP customer on a cable network to any
other VoIP customer on any other Dutch cable network free of
charge. "That's one option. My personal opinion is we will see
flat rate telephony for a fixed fee per month, and that's it
— no separate call fees. Voice is just another
application of IP."
The pilot is designed to test the VoIP technology, from
suppliers such as Nortel and Siemens, that the different
operators use, and to test it's interworking with VoIP
technology standards such as ENUM and SIP.
In the second phase of the project the operators will be
looking at features such as video telephony, he suggested.
The system will be hosted on the Amsterdam Internet
Exchange, where their will be a database of VoIP numbers
operated by the different cable companies. "Otherwise the call
will go via the PSTN."
CaiW, the smallest of the five participants in the scheme,
is based near the Dutch capital, The Hague. "We are designing
the project technically," said de Graaf.
It will be possible to exchange VoIP calls internationally,
but first the operators want to test the market and the
technology inside the Netherlands, he said. XConnect already
has more than 75 internet telephony service providers across 20
"This deal is a momentous event highlighting the tremendous
VoIP is having on business models of telecommunications,"
said Eli Katz, founder and CEO of XConnect.
KPN rebrands to boost chances against
Dutch incumbent KPN has launched its new brand positioning
under one key theme, : "KPN sluit je aan" — or "KPN
connects you" — in an attempt to reinforce its
position against its competitors.
The company is also rolling out a new house style and an
accompanying advertising campaign.
"The world as we know it is rapidly changing," said CEO Ad
Scheepbouwer. "KPN was one of the first in our sector to steer
a new course last year and now we are leader in converging
internet, television and telephony."
KPN is "undergoing a transformation", he said. "We are
witnessing the transformation from a traditional telecom
company to a multimedia company whereby the emphasis is on
marketing and distribution. Plus, we harbour the ambition of
offering innovations that can be effortlessly absorbed into the
daily routines of our customers."