Sunday, August 05, 2007

Open access: Future of communications?

The fact is that the cellular industry is standing on a precipice.
The future clearly consists of open access, services like VoIP, full Internet browsing and access to open sites, wider choice of devices, etc. BUT the industry is today controled by cellular carriers, since they subsidize the phones that customers get and they're the only company that customers really ever deal with. And they're paying for
their infrastructure and want to profit from it as much as possible.
Handset manufacturers are deathly afraid of offending a carrier, since if they offend a carrier, their handsets don't get sold. (The slight exception is Nokia, since they're the biggest.) This is why things like dual-mode phones and mass-market phones with software extensibility aren't more common than they are. But at the same time, the handset manufacturers do see the future. They want to get there, and to bring new devices to market, but they need to get there without blowing the next year or so of profits and putting themselves out of business, i.e., without offending carriers.

Given this climate, anything that makes this future come clearer, anything that makes it more and more inevitable and obvious that the future is open access, and anything that makes consumers and non- technical businesspeople think about this future, has the power to tip the scales. More carriers deciding not to block VoIP, more carriers tearing down their walled gardens, and more carriers offering extensible devices, are all moves in the right direction, and anything that nudges them along, and more importantly makes businesspeople aware that they need to be nudged along, will bring on this future faster.

--Bruce Krulwich

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