File under irony.
It turns out the primary patents that Vonage infringed have to do with methods for routing calls to the PSTN (publicly switched telephone network). Now that is irony…
By my reading of the patents and understanding of the decision (thanks to Pulver Media for today's webinar) it appears that Verizon's victory over Vonage was primarily in relation to Vonage's method for selecting the PSTN gateway closest to the PSTN number a Vonage subscriber dialed.
The irony here is that the biggest impediment to VoIP is that it still requires the PSTN as the primary backbone between VoIP networks (providers). For example, if I have Skype and you have Vonage in order for me to call you the call MUST transit the legacy PSTN. There are many reasons for this – none of which have anything to do with technology. Primarily it has to do with each provider building a "defensive moat" around thier service (analogous to cell providers requiring 2 year contracts in order to get the phone free).
The irony here is that if – in reaction to this ruling, and as a defensive mechanism – VoIP providers engaged fully with one another to make VoIP Peering (the direct exchange of VoIP traffic without the PSTN) a reality across all VoIP Providers PSTN providers would suffer. At some point Verizon, at&t and the other PSTN providers would be forced by the market realities to join the Peering fabric and provide PSTN interconnect themselves. At that point they lose significant revenue from VoIP providers using minutes on their networks and take on the additional costs associated with gatewaying all of the traffic.
I have to say, I think it is time that the VoIP providers start working together to ensure a common future instead of waging running battles for market share in the VoIP market. Fundamentally (to the consumer) there is only one market… the transmission of voice between two endpoints.