Telcos Out To Silence Net Phone Calls
from the growing-threat dept
The phone companies have shown an amazing ability to avoid offering real new services to their customers until they’re absolutely forced to. When competitors come along, they’ve used their monopoly powers or political clout to change the rules to get their wishes. This article suggests the Bells are about to
do the same thing to voice-over-IP calls, since they’re finally realizing that they present a real competitive threat. This is, yet again, another clear case of companies not understanding how disruptive technologies work. VoIP is a classic example of a disruptive technology – cheaper, but it starts off not nearly good enough to match the incumbent offerings, so the major players ignore it. However, it’s getting better over time, and is basically at the point where it’s “good enough” for many users. So, now the Bells want to block out the VoIP players. In doing so, they’re (like so many other companies) trying to shut down a “competitive” technology without realizing the opportunities it presents. The Bells see it as an alternative way to use the telephone, when, in reality, VoIP changes the very nature of what you can do with the telephone. It puts the smarts into the network so that anyone can add additional features instead of being forced to go through approved services hosted by the Bells themselves (see why they’re upset about it?). But, what the Bells refuse to see, is that by making the telephone smarter and more useful, they open up more opportunities for themselves (and others), if they would just figure out how to capitalize on them. Instead, they’re futzing around trying to figure out ways to slow down VoIP providers – while those VoIP providers figure out how to give consumers a better service. Update: In somewhat related news, the Internet Home Alliance has come out with a report telling technology companies they need to innovate or die. They say most companies focus on their traditional businesses, and miss the opportunities that come along. Seems to fit with what I said above.