Here’s the dream: Imagine buying a phone that you plug into a network port, much like you do with a normal telephone port today. The phone connects to your home network, which in turn connects to the Internet. You dial the number of another similar phone, and the phone connects to it, across the Internet. You can call anyone who has one of these phones for as long as you like, and you don’t pay for anything, except the normal cost of your Internet connection.
Now imagine you have a mobile phone which does this. A mobile phone that connects to the Internet, via some kind of wireless network and allows you to make phone calls to other Internet phones for just the cost of the Internet connection.
Imagine the cost savings you could make when you’re not being billed extortionate amounts of money per minute for the privilege of speaking to someone – when all you’re paying for is the cost of the Internet connection. Imagine how much difference it could make if money wasn’t an issue when you want to talk to someone on the phone.
Much like Skype, you might still be charged in the traditional way when calling regular phones, but the cost of calling other Internet phones would be negligible.
Now imagine how much difference this will make to the existing telephone companies like BT. They’ve invested a hell of a lot of money in their existing infrastructure, a lot of which is looking pretty obsolete now that you have clever new IP-based protocols that can piggy-back on top of the Internet on the cheap and skirt round their charging mechanisms. Imagine what the evil capitalist telecomms companies might try to do to stop this happening, and to keep the bucks rolling in.
This is why I love disruptive technologies like open source software and voice-over-IP, and even open source voice-over-IP – because they threaten to change things in a big way, whether the big evil corporate types like it or not.