Thursday, September 2, 2010, 11:50 AMI am very fond of network- and phone companies. After all, they have the wires that allow us to connect and to use our Internet. A few days ago, while in the shower, it hit me: There is a universal equation covering the development of new visions and/or ideas into features and services. The translation into mathematics goes roughly like this:
Posted by Administrator
Posted by Administrator
X=Existing phone or network company
N=New visionary service or feature
I know, it's a complicated formula. It simply states, that new visions and ideas usually take the phone- and network carriers by surprise. Those companies have the wires, the customer relation a working subscription system - why can't or won't they translate it into rocket fuel that propels them to the top of the foot chain?
Take Skype. A more or less simple system that allows people to talk, video-chat and even phone people - bypassing the carriers in the process. Same with IPTV and video on demand. The phone-companies just slept through the (ongoing) process of development in the Internet. Think about PayPal - how easy it could have been realized by phone companies allowing people to buy stuff and pay with their phone-bills.
The network-carriers did nothing. They made their wires 'wireless' but they relied on their wire-bound and old-fashioned concepts of long-term contracts, tethering or playing real-life Monopoly. How sad to see all that muscle go to waste. They are now spending millions of dollars to convince politicians and the public that an uncontrolled, free and wild Internet is bad. They want to force their way of thinking upon us by trying to manipulate who will be allowed into their first-class, Orwell controlled and censored "walled gardens" and who would be "stuck" in a slower, more unreliable "free" network. It's the war of the worlds. A civilization (the carriers) having ignored the signs and developments are now trying to capture another civilization (us) not by vision, developments or cooperation, but by lobbying and force.
Unfortunately, a lot of former "free thinkers" are happy to oblige. Take Apple or Google for example. They sell us their hardware and tether us to a carrier. Now the carriers define what software we are allowed to run on our devices. They are trying to turn back the clock to pre 1968 - when livin' was easy for them. Nobody was allowed to attach anything to their precious wires - no modems, fax-machines or other phones. However, in 1968, the Federal Communications Commission allowed the Carterfone and other devices to be connected directly to the AT&T network - allowing innovations like answering machines and other stuff.
Without the FECs intervention, we might not have the Internet today.
What does that tell us? Innovation needs liberty. As long as phone-companies or carriers are allowed to block whatever they don't like to see in their networks, visions or great ideas are muffled, blocked or even extinguished. We shouldn't allow this to happen.
I have been hired as a consultant by quite a few different carriers. I suggested new ways to use their networks, new services, new products - all in harmony with what is available and in good, fair cooperation with the Internet community. They paid me, thanked me and continued to do what they did for the last 80 years or so - charge people for their "minutes" while trying to prohibit alternatives.
I am very fond of network- and phone companies - no tongue in cheek. They could contribute greatly to the development of a universal, fast, reliable and affordable universal communications environment, with and without wires. They could play a pivotal role in multimedia and entertainment delivery, safe, flexible payment solutions and so much more. However - as long as they play their muscle game, we have to hope for another farseeing FEC ruling. It should come soon, or we might find ourselves flung back into a past where all programmers wear suits and listen to Petula Clark on expensive digital "single song" storage devices (also known as "singles").