Thursday, January 27, 2005

Customizing Your Telecom Services

The article, "Take Back Your Cell," in the latest edition of Popular Science magazine hints at the future of the telecom business. Cory Doctrow's point is that traditional phone companies, even cell phone providers, have business models based on proprietary services. Just look at how the Baby Bells have managed to get the rules changed to eliminate sharing their lines with competitors at wholesale rates through UNE-P.

Oh, they're going to drive the competition away alright. They going to drive them right into new and more cost effective technologies like VoIP and WiMAX. If the local incumbents don't look out, they'll be the sole owners of unpowered 26 gauge copper wires until nature recycles that metal back into the good earth.

Newer cell phones now have programmability beyond just selecting among built-in functions. You can download custom ringtones from 3rd party providers at competitive marketplace prices. At least one phone lets you use MP3s as ringtones, opening the door to creating your own for free. Other phones allow you to download software applications for games and other functions, like you do with PCs and PDAs.

On the business system scale, TAPI or Telephone Application Programming Interface, allows computers running Microsoft Windows to program telephones, modems and FAX machines. The popular VoIP communications standard, SIP for Session Initiation Protocol, is enabling new companies such as Skype, Vonage, Packet8 and Broadvox to become major telecom service players without owning ANY wires into the home or business.

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