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The Internet

Get Free World Dial-Up -- With a Few Catches 96

maken writes: "Remember the Free World Dialup project? From their page: "In the Fall of 1995 several of us had been throwing around the idea of "patching" Internet phone to regular telephone lines in order to allow true "patching" of international phone calls over the Internet - not just for people with computers but for anybody with access to a phone... and this is how the Free World Dialup project got started. As commercial VOIP gateways became available, Free World Dialup II in 1997 was the first free network to provide a free phone to phone service to over 15 countries using commercial hardware and software." Well, they're at it again and are looking for members." It costs about a hundred bucks to become part of it (for hardware), as well as broadband access. Rather reminds of me the ambitious Bayonne Project, (about which more later).
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Get Free World Dial-Up -- With a Few Catches

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Officially:

    Country name:
    conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
    conventional short form: United Kingdom
    abbreviation: UK

    Note that it is Great Britain and Northern Ireland. NI is not part of Britain, but is part of the UK. The two are often mistaken as interchangeable, when they are not.

    link [cia.gov]

  • actually this isn't due to vodafone being a huge multinational (though it is), but due to the fact that mobile companies everywhere except the US have standardised on GSM....
  • but poland is miles away...
  • Well, at least the metric spaceprobes dont stop at every Drive-In along their route :-)
  • the phone company has been trying every year since the modem first came out. Of course my thoughts on this are, if I have to pay a tax on phone line for using data over it, it should be perfect, always up and without flaw always. If I must pay for doing something they do nothing extra for, then they should do extra to justify my paying.

    Yes I know it will never happen, but what the hell, I could bitch.
  • i wouldnt be surprised if the FBI made a raid on members of this project

    Not that this will have any bearing on reality. But if the FBI did raid someone for using this system I almost be that would be the best thing for the project. Concidering the people raided would be paying customers of the phone company. Since there is nothing being done wrong there shouldn't be anything that could be done about it.

    Of course, nothing works quiet the way it should
  • http://cu30.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]

    30fps over DSL video conferencing. There are some links to drivers in the forums, if not the one you want post something.


    New worlds are not born in the vacuum of abstract
  • I think you're right that we may be heading in that direction. I also think it is very undesirable. I would rather deal with the baronies, than pay a tax that isn't spent with accountability. The only catch is that rather than be hand picked by divine right, I want barons to either spring up or fall off, until their profit margins reach the naturally "correct" level.

    The reason that the phone companies aren't laying DSL to every building is that it isn't profitable to do so. I suspect (half-assed opinion coming up) that if I were to trace out what is keeping it from being profitable, I would find Congress, FCC, state regulations, etc.

    Most people in USA think that other government-maintained infrastructures are handled well. For example, the roads are in generally good condition. But what is the relationship between what it really costs to create/maintain this infrastructure, and the taxes collected to fund it? Answer: nobody knows. We might be paying 1.1x the cost, or we might be paying 11x the cost. There is no force (except maybe the press?) that causes public money to be efficiently spent. (And have you seen the press lately?)

    Keeping things private (and protecting the market from monopolization) is the only way to avoid getting reamed. So, IMHO, we either have to try to avoid letting communications infrastructure be interpreted as a "necessary commodity" or we need to change how society uses its government to protect necessary commodities.

    I don't see any libertarian revolution coming, (e.g. cutting public education funding is currently interpreted as being anti-education, and ending the drug war is currently seen as being pro-drug, etc.) so changing how society uses government ain't likely to happen any time soon. Therefore, playing down the importance of comm infrastructure might be the best strategy, at least for the short-term. Unfortunately, that won't get rid of the monopolies. :(


    ---
  • No idea how you manage to call roaming cheap on Vodafone.

    Oh, and the world doesn't QUITE have a unified system. There's GSM 900mhz, which is the most common. But there are large chunks of the world where 1800mhz is the standard. Most phones sold in Europe support both these frequencies, and are thus called "dual band". America's GSM network is done mostly by Voicestream, and uses 1900mhz. I don't know the reason for this - perhaps it's to do with FCC allocation or something.

    Anyway, I have a nice little Ericsson T28 World, which is dual band in that it work on 900mhz and 1900mhz. And thus serves me very nicely in America, for 52 pence (~75 cents) per minute local calls, 130 pence (~$1.80) per minute back to the UK, on Voicestream New Mexico.

    Um.

    That's all :-)
  • Here's where all the 'modem tax' rumors come in. Despite the urban legend, long distance phone carriers try to push through some kind of rate on internet calls every year. Last year they wanted local calls to ISP's to be billed on a per-minute basis. The scenario the guy described wouldn't surprise me at all.
  • That was not a racist comment. It was fact. It may be political, you may not like it, but it is a fact.

    I refer you to the United Kingdom Passport Authority [ukpa.gov.uk].

    I quote.

    People became British citizens on 1 January 1983 if they were citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies on 31 December 1982 and had the right of abode in the United Kingdom on that date.


    The United Kingdom is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is England, Scotland, Wales and some other islands that someone else posted details of.

    Thus, if you were a UK Citizen living in the UK on 1 January 1983 you became a British Citizen.

    Can someone now tell me where I was being racist?

  • Now we're getting into the discussion of "what is a UKian". I see a "UKian" as being a citizen of the UK. If that is not the view of other people then I apologise.

  • What's a UKian?

    If you're from the UK then you are British, your passport says so.
  • You were racist because there was not enough cultural diversity in your posting.

    --
  • Great Britain = Mainland UK

    Yep. The island consisting of England, Scotland and Wales.

    UK = GB + Northern Ireland, IOM and Channel Islands

    Ouch. And after you started out so well. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It does NOT include the Channel Isles or the Isle of Man which, of course, have governments of their own. All of those things, and more, are parts of the British Isles but that's geography not politics.
  • HHWIB (How Hard Would It Be) to make a little box that sits between a 5-dollar radio shack telephone handset and a voice modem? Does somebody already make one of these?

    The idea being that you could hook your house's existing POTS wiring and hardware into a throwaway linux box (VOIP gateway) with just one little cheap black box.

  • To answer my own question, not very hard at all. You'd need a well-filtered wall wart and a 300-ohm resistor.

    So it's just a matter of software.

  • Have you been following the DECSS case?
  • > There is no trend of companies having absolute power in the US.

    It's not absolute, but the ability to interrogate Norwegian child programmers can be a little scary to some.
  • Uh, I still browse with Lynx most of the time. I don't think we're on a "video Internet" just yet, I DO know that my ability to do work on the Web suffers when my next-door neighbor is downloading movies on his Win98 B.S. box.
  • Has anyone thought about what will happen when every dumb dick in the free world is long-distance VOIPing his buddy across eighteen routers and three sections of the backbone?


    Here's a clue... apt-getting 'cal' will take fifty-two minutes on your T1 connection.


    We've had working voice connections for nearly a hundred years. Why load the Internet beyond human comprehension just to have free long distance?

  • My particular ISP allows me to run just about anything over my DSL... except IRC bots! [capu.net]
  • by nebular ( 76369 )
    I loved that episode, not only did it have the laughs but an explosion too.

    and Fever thought that was the phone police too!!
  • already being done.. they are about 70-100 bux.... biggest drawback is half time phone won't ring.. 48v power minimum needed.. hmmm linksys has one.. cisco has one.. pagoo has one.. and d-link is making one.. off top of my head... they work ok....
  • So you would have to get a second phone line if you wanted to make local calls in case somebody from across the globe is using it.
  • Business plan: Develop a protocol for real-time multi-way voice over the internet; computer to computer using a piece of hardware that combines the internet interface and this new service. Sell the hardware and bandwidth.

    This would be a nice little service for all users of that company. Now if all of the telco's adopted a standard protocol and released the source, anyone could make the hardware/software, and viola!: the telephone as you know it is gone. So instead of telcos and ISPs, you have I/SDSPs (Internet/Streaming Data Service Providers). So your phone is now completely replaced by your computer. Sure, you could also sell a piece of hardware that does nothing but this telephone-type connection.

    I know this is obvious and ideal, so when's it gonna happen?

    Today's /. reply is brought to you by the letter Q and the number 7.
  • i wouldnt be surprised if the FBI made a raid on members of this project for participating in activities that could hurt the phone companies.

    Had to laugh. This comment reminded me of the old WKRP episode where Johnny Fever thought the phone cops were after him.

  • Why would the local telcos want to cause trouble? With DSL, I still have to pay for a local phone line. The DSL costs are more than my long distance and local service combined. My local phone company doesn't get my long distance money; why should they care if I use VoIP? If I start using it even for local calls, that cuts down on usage of their phone switches, though it does increase the DSL traffic. Overall, I would think they would be happy to see this happen.

    Now, the long distance carriers will definitely have severe problems with this. AT&T will overcome it with its cable service. Sprint has started offering DSL (Sprint Ion). I don't know what MCI is doing.

    Edward Burr

  • A bit harsh, no? Why don't you go easy on the guy. This is supposed to be a place where people can feel free to speak their minds without fear of persecution.

    It is; that's why he criticized the first poster. He's speaking his mind.
    --
  • long distant companies will have a fit...
  • Sure, you could also sell a piece of hardware that does nothing but this telephone-type connection.

    hrmm...that's pretty dumb...in essence your talking about replacing the phone with a "New Fangled" phone... Why re-invent the wheel. Once you change the method of connection and the method reaches "critical mass" the telcos will step in and figure out a schema to moderate it and make it their own... In essence you just made a really expensive phone that instead of using existing technology now uses twice the bandwith for the same message...

    Pretty fuckin stupid, eh?

  • so i hafta drop a whole bill just so i get box that essentially makes thousands of local calls a day? whatever happened to the old recorded-quarters-dropping-in-payphone trick?
  • Great Britain = Mainland UK
    UK = GB + Northern Ireland, IOM and Channel Islands
    There are some other islands, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Mull, Islay etc. I come from the Isle of Skye (yes, with the infamous bridge), and it's a pain in the arse trying to get couriers to ship stuff there.
    "But it says Isle of Skye, it's not mainland Britain!"
    "Yes it is"
    "No it isn't"
    Usually you get the goods 4 days later with an extra £25 carriage charge. Bummer.
  • Ouch. And after you started out so well.
    You're quite correct - no Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
    Ah, well... It's been years since I did Geography 'O' Grade...
  • Not to mention the fact that SOMEONE has to pay for the local calls that's being made through YOUR little $100 box. It might not sound like much, but knowing that most European countries still pay pr. minute charges, You need a REALLY wealthy guy to afford the cost of half the world calling France or whereever.
    I guess the system only really works if all the members are evenly distributed over the world, paying the same charges, and calling roughly the same people, thus roughly distributing the cost evenly between them, and noone exploiting the system, or similarly sliding by for free ?
    I'd love to be a part of a project that can keep the phonebill down, but if it means I have to shell out a few hundred bucks a month for users tying up my phone line... I'm not really for that. My phone bill isn't that high to begin with.

  • Actually, you're wrong...

    At least here in Australia, our biggest telco (telstra - whom I just so happen to work for) has already launched a service that connects phone calls to your PC when you're on the net.

    They're also busily building an IP backbone that will eventually carry all voice and data communications.

    There's also another free phone-to-phone company here in Australia that earns its' revenue through interrupting your conversation with advertisements at set intervals. Only downer is that I believe they only provide local calls.

    But personally I can't see VOIP taking off yet.
    It's too restrictive and poor-quality. People are going to demand visual comms as well as voice in the future. WHen a standard protocol comes out that will support good-quality audiovisual communications, then you'll see IP telephony take off.

    A usable videophone...who would have guessed?

  • Oops... I should have made myself more clear... I'm not saying your statement that all comms will be over IP in the future, in fact I agree with that. I'm disagreeing to your statement that most telcos fail to realise that the above is their greatest fear. In fact, many of them are gearing up for just such a happening. Of course, large companies move slowly (and also fsck an awful lot of things up.), so if a small company can make a go of it and become successful they may still have a chance against the incumbant telcos....but they'd better act quick.
  • Business plan: Develop a protocol for real-time multi-way voice over the internet

    It already exists - its called SIP (Session Initiation Protocol).

    computer to computer using a piece of hardware that combines the internet interface and this new service

    You mean DSL?

  • The idea of VOIP raises some interesting concerns. Those of immediate importance to me are legal: I live in a country where there is a state sponsored monolopy on communications, and the telecoms company reserves the exclusive right to voice traffic.

    The idea of economics is more of a global issue though. Many telecos have positioned themselves such that they make a loss off local calls, but recoup and profit on long distance calls and calls to other carriers. VOIP promises a sudden (well, maybe not too sudden) demise to this situation, reducing long distance traffic to data only.

    The effects, as far as I can determine, would be to raise the cost of long distance data traffic in a manner disproportionate to the increase in load. You see, data requires better quality lines than voice, so many older copper lines that run long distance would need to be replaced or upgraded to keep up with the required digital load.

    This, finally, is passed on in cost to everyone - not just those who don't make long distance calls, but all Internet users who have nothing to do with the load generated by VOIP.

    Is anyone else worried by the prospect of all subsidising all? Or would you like to see a one-rate-calls-anywhere tarrif system on a global scale?

  • perhaps those people don't know that in some countries (italy) the phone company is still charging for a fee for the local area calls, based on time of conversation. Which means, if I'm a FWD and people calls and only makes local area calls 24/7, I'm pretty fucked up (I'd rather pay int'l phone bills instead of using a phone 24/7)
  • Um who is paying for your calls? GSM may work in many countries in the world but I don't call $8/min very affordable. For locals in that particular country, international calls from a mobile are forgettable unless you have good connections with the telephone company. Sorry, but whilst the mobile phone is a device from heaven for comms, the fees make it emergency use only in many countries for international calls. The mobile phone companies assume that because you have a mobile phone, either you have free calls or an expensive multinational paying your bill that they can gouge. It shouldn't cost any more for international calls from mobiles other than that of additional charge for the air-link. However, this doesn't stop the mobile company from charging a pile.

    To add insult to injury your home carrier will further hit you for 25% roaming fee as they collect the money and pass it to the local company. Actually, it only ever goes as far as a clearer.

  • Mobile penetration into the UK is 25% according to a magazine I have just read, but the sentiment is correct.
  • £4/min to use a UK Vodafone in New Zealand and that's using Vodafone's network out there. Sorry but that isn't cheep. Useful yes cheep no. Just to add to your list of places Andorra, France, New Zealand, Australia...
  • Howabout in touch with reality. Look at the MPAA and DECSS. But that must not have anything to do with corporate interests, right? And neither did that pesky war we had just several years ago. you know the one.. the one with the oil companies.. nah. Take a look around. Take a look at napster. You think the artists are getting fucked with napster? no fucking way.
  • I don't think the long distance carriers will care until bandwidth becomes high enough to make day to day long distance through the internet worth while for the majority of their customers. And by then, the long distance companies will probably be running the broadband- unless AOL buys them all first.
  • The telcos wouldn't make a whole lot of money selling the hardware. Too many people make phones, and they're way too simple to build for anyone to make a lot of money on them.

    The bandwidth? They would have to get a lot of people into DSL, then reckon for the fact that those people will cancel their local-phone service (why pay for both?) In the end, they don't end up too far ahead.

  • This is also a good point, however, the current phone system is in place, the costs are reasonable.

    Well, yes and no. The costs are actually very unreasonable when you consider what it costs a Telco to move the raw data encapsulated in one minute's conversation (it's a lot less than 7 cents.) What makes the charges more reasonable is the quality of service you get, and the convenience of accessing the service through your phone. If you choose to get your service through your computer, you sacrifice both of these things. You're essentially buying your fish off the boat instead of waiting for it to be breaded, frozen and displayed attractively in the supermarket freezer.

    But you're right, in this case, its not strictly stealing _until_ TOS'es get modified to prohibit the practice of this 'phone service'.

    Actually, violating the TOS'es wouldn't make you a criminal, you would just be in violation of your contract with the phone company. It would only (in theory) be criminalized if there were some overwhelming need for society to regulate citizens' behavior for everyone's good. At present, phone companies can regulate their own network charges and refuse to give service to people who violate TOS'es. The customers, for their part, can do business with other companies that are more open to transferring raw data closer to the real cost. In my opinion, the real damage to society occurs when the customer doesn't have that option anymore.

    Surely the phone companies have not planned that you upend their business model, whereas in the last paragraph, you are simply making a selection _within_ the airline's business model.

    But that's exactly what you're doing here. MCI offers both voice long-distance and data services. Both fit within the company's business model; although they would like you to buy the more expensive service for your voice needs, they apparently don't believe they can force you.

    Maybe I'm just being awkward in trying to find the 'fair play' in life, but if I don't tow the line here, then I have no moral authority to show outrage when the business world doesn't either. So therefore, I pay for my phone calls.

    And it's a noble sentiment. But by allowing phone companies to maintain their overpriced, broken business model, we're really not helping anyone. Average consumers like us will pay increasingly unrealistic charges, and eventually some other company will come along and demolish the slow, comfortable phone companies.

    If you're curious why I'm so passionate about this, it's because I spent several years in the employ of a large phone company. It was precisely the belief that customers had some obligation to fill their coffers that led to their ugly financial situation today.

  • It's not really free. You're paying for the cost of the internet connection, and the local phone lines. What you're eliminating is the phone company's markup. It's like baking your own bread instead of buying it in the supermarket. Takes longer and maybe it's not sliced as evenly, but it's cheaper and there's nothing evil about it.
  • Nobody is going to lay down parallel infrastructure when they can get the government to force the owners to allow them to use the existing infrastructure.

    Well, that's not really true. Look at cable and wireless, both of which are basically providing infrastructure parallel to the local phone system. All that aside, I agree that it's not economical to build too many (say, 20) competing local systems, but there's certainly no reason you couldn't build many long-distance systems.

    The reason I don't see government-owned infrastructure working out is just plain lack of competition. State run companies have been terribly slow to respond to or predict demand. All over the world, newly sprung-up mobile phone companies are doing more business than the state-controlled monopolies in large part because they actually try to compete.

  • The government will either rapidly or gradually assume control of the phone system, and like the roads, we'll assume 'free' use of them in exchange for tax dollars.

    And yet this seems to be exactly the opposite of what's now happening in many European countries, where state Telco monopolies are now being privatized. I think one of the reasons the roads/communications analogy breaks down is that it's possible, even easy, to build parallel communications infrastructure. We're much better off with MCI/AT&T/Sprint/Quest etc. than we would be with a single, socialized communications system. Multiple infrastructures often result in a glut of bandwidth, which lends itself to new and creative uses like 800 numbers and the net. Single-entity controlled networks are often expensive and underpowered.

    Now, there are some great things that the European telcos have done. Take the Minitel, for instance-- France providing a graphical terminal to every citizen free of charge. Unfortunately, due to the phone company's high rates, it was still damned expensive to use the Minitel and the technology never really developed.

    I don't mean to sound particularly pro-business, because I'm not. At the present moment, I see unfettered Telco consolidation as the most realistic threat to our ability to easily communicate. No single infrastructure is ever going to be the answer, whether it's united under government or business control.

  • To counter your argument, what if every dumb dick in the free world was able to use his 52mbps cable connection or his 8mbps dsl connection just so they can look at Star Wars trailers all day (or any bandwidth intensive application)?

    While this could happen, chances are when Joe Blow is able to get a 52mpbs cable connection, the internet backbones will have already been upgraded to something with higher capacity.
  • Did you know that already 7% of households in the UK have no landline due to the huge popularity of mobile phones there? What with 54% of the population owning one, it looks like the death of the landline isn't that far off...

    And last year was the first year BT didn't build any new public telephones either.

  • This is true. We are currently screening the applications for FWD operators.
  • the AC, We will be deploying an ENUM server after we launch.
  • You will be able to make local phone calls which take advantage of the local dialing plans that each node is connected to. We will be in 50 cities when the launch on March 9th. This means that the 51st node will be able to place calls into at least 50 locations. In addition, we will support node-to-node dialing afterwards. We will also support other SIP Based user agents in the future which will open up FWD to many others, including those with softphones.
  • Free World Dialup is real. You can check us out from what was done back in 1995-96 and again during 1997-99. The "box" is a commerical Cisco Komodo single port gateway which if you already have one, there is no need to purchase another one. Depending upon the broadband connectivity, you may run into NAT problems. We found a workaround using a Linksys 4 port hub. The service is free and there is no charge to connect. As long as you have the right equipment, you will be able to connect. We need broadband connectivity so that we are able to run G.711 which makes those calls sound as good (if not better than) the PSTN.
  • Just read your Manifesto and I agree. End - to - End - IP is the fear of most established operators...it is just that some have not realized it yet. Hope to choose to run a FWD node and join the revolution. Jeff
  • Free World Dialup III is launching on March 9th. I'm looking for 20+ additional nodes. Those who qualify will be given for free a single port Komodo gateway. Details regarding FWD Node requirements are at: http://www.pulver.com/fwd/fwdIIIsrv.html [pulver.com]

    Feel free to visit pulver.com [pulver.com] for background information on the primary supporter for this 'project'. The first 20 node applications which meet our criteria will be given configured Nodes for free. (Including free shipping anywhere in the world.). Regards to all, Jeff Pulver jeff@pulver.com [mailto]

  • by volsung ( 378 )
    Perhaps this will only be viable then in the U.S. In my area (Phoenix) a residential phone line costs approx $15 per month if you only make local calls. However, I don't know what long distance rates are in the U.S. (email does the job for me), so I'm not sure where the break-even point is.
  • by volsung ( 378 )
    No. If you shell out $100 (plus extra phone line cost), you get to call any location that has a person in the area who paid $100. The coverage of this service is a bunch of local telephone areas that contain people who are also members.
  • Phone companies *could* be laying DSL to every home, building, or apartment but they're not.

    God, I wish that were true, but it's not.

    My small apartment complex has 30 units, if we all had 1.5 Mbit DSL (as I do), we would need a full T-3 - 45 Mbit - to handle our traffic. Hell, we'd need 10 Mbits just to handle our minimum guaranteed bandwidth of 384 Kbits.

    There's another such apartment complex right next door. In fact, if you draw a box around the square mile north of the University of Texas campus, and figured that every business, house and apartment in this moderately dense urban area was fed by 1.5 Mbit DSL, you'd quickly get an amount of potential traffic that would saturate every piece of fiber leaving Austin.

    Companies are trenching fiber as fast as they can, but they can only lay it so fast. I'm pretty sure DSL/Cable prices are set to ensure an adoption rate slow enough to keep the backbones from being overloaded. If they dropped it $20/month, they wouldn't be able to push packets fast enough to handle the traffic.

    Don Negro

  • Even without V/IP, long distance has become less and less of a profitable industry with the introduction of celphones. Before various legislations (in the states), there were only 3 or 4 major LD providers; now, not only can your local phone company offer the LD service, but so can a large handful of small regional players in addition to the 3/4 giants. The market is sufficiently saturated that competition in LD rates has brought the profit margin down for most of these companies...

    Which is why all of the big players have alterative service businesses which do make them the money: AT&T for example has it's cable (and cable ISP) services. If and when LD becomes a ubiquitious charge comparable to a standard local phone call (whether due to V/IP or not), these companies will not die out thanks to their other holdings. As things move more digital with all phones using V/IP (once we get IP6), these companies will become a virtual IP, mainly helping to maintain and navigator your phone device to the internet backbone; they'll make their money from the fact that you do need to 'connect' your phone to the internet somehow which is where they will continue to make their service dollars. Of course, those with dedicated connections that they already pay for, like DSL, won't need to repay to use V/IP.

  • The start and end of daylight saving time is now standardized across the EU. According to http://www.rog.nmm.ac.uk/leaflets/summer/summer.ht ml [nmm.ac.uk], summer time starts at 01:00 on the last Sunday in March, and ends at 01:00 on the last Sunday in October. (That's 01:00 UT (01:00 GMT) in both cases, BTW.) This has been the case since 1998. I believe that this is decided at EU level: when France wanted to change timezone, the other EU countries (except Britain) refused to allow them to change.

    I wrote code to handle this nonsense: uk_tz.pl [ic.ac.uk]. It's a few routines building on the Date::Manip Perl module - one day I should make it into a derived class, or something. Consider it GPL/Artistic dual-licensed.

  • It was those frenchies who fobbed the metric system on us. The brits are still resisting [bbc.co.uk] nicely.

    But I do have to agree on the clocks, what with Brit Summer Time, Double Brit Summer Time, and other such nonsense. Add in random start and stop dates for DBST and BST, determined each year by a bunch of insane looneys calling themselves "Parliament" and then getting a Queen (obviously a highly trained chrono-astronomer, she) to approve those dates. This means you can never accurately predict in software routines when those brits will be changing their clocks next year, requiring regular patches to your code. Even M$ has trouble keeping it straight :-)

    the AC
  • The way it is decribed on their site, is that one node can only call another node? Can you not call a normal anolog phone? That would reduce its practicality a lot.
  • When I recently looked at the broadband offerings from Telia (Swedish national provider), I was surprised to see that on the "What kind of stuff can I do with broadband" page that they have to convince people they need ADSL/cable, they actually had a link to V/IP software. I thought that was pretty cool.

    Of course, your point being that once a substantional percentage of users start using V/IP then they not not feel so generous still stands...

    Mike.
  • There is no trend of companies having absolute power in the US.

    Yeah, and the MPAA didn't have the courts inhibit 2600's freedom of the press.

    And that Jon Johanson kid's house was never raided.

    Various companies didn't get *sucks.com internet domains transferred to them due to "trademark infringement."

    Napster was never [temporarily] shut down due to consumers doing their own file sharing.

    Microsoft rules the desktop due to fair licensing tactics.

    The DCMA was institued into law for the protection of consumers and artists.

    Riiiiight.


  • One district court judge in the pocket of Time Warner made one ruling in the MPAA's favor. OTOH, Dow Corning was forced to settle for millions when sued over a product that had no harmful effects except in the overexcited imaginations of the scientifically illiterate.

    Key words there: "In the pocket of Time Warner." With the nearly recent merger of Time Warner and AOL, they've got the vast majority of the mass media in their pocket. Once you have that, almost nothing is beyond their grasp.

    I have no knowledge of the Dow Corning case, but that seems to have more to do with our overexuberant media than anything else. I was arguing that, yes, huge corporate entities do have too much power over the consumer. Overexcited scientists and the media in general do not fit my definition of "consumer."

    Er, he isn't in the U.S. The writer didn't say anything about Norway.

    My point exactly. The MPAA (An alliance of US companies) *should've* had no say whatsoever in what kind of programming a teenager in Norway chooses to do. Yet they did, soley on might alone.

    Let's see -- the revocations were by the UN's WIPO, under a resolution policy promulgated by a nonprofit corporation, affecting only root servers operated by one specific for-profit corporation.

    Some non-profit organization that is, acting on the whim of for-profit organizations.

    Lots of corporations are ordered to cease and desist from legal activities temporarily when there is a question of legality raised.

    Fine, I'll buy that. But the point was that the RIAA wanted Napster shut down by any means neccessary. Probably with the intent to scare Napster Inc into doing it the RIAA's way or no way at all. They succeeded.

    So, if corporate power is so great, why couldn't they have been stomped out by the much larger blue-chip IBM?

    Because IBM had no interest in stomping them out until it was too late. Besides, IBM was always primarily a hardware company. While IBM was a great stepping stone, had Apple or someone else become the dominant PC maker, Bill Gates might have done just as well on any other system with the kinds of rules he played by.

    And the Americans with Disabilities Act wass instituted for the protection of corporate profits...

    I don't see the comparison.
  • Not many people in the industry realize(or will admit publicly) that is thier biggest fear. In 10 years most people in the US and other countries where broadband to the home will be available, will not have a pots line to thier house. Most people will have a cell phone(4 or 5g by then) and will have one number where they can receive calls on their cell, or through thier broadband connection in thier house. They will have a box attached to thier hub that will power the POTS line in their house so they can use all there old phone equipment(wall phones, cordless etc etc).

    Most communications will be over IP.. picture this scenario..

    Bob in NJ will want to call there buddy Jay in California. Bob's phone # is 609-555-1111 and is provisoned by Jersey Cell company(fictional). He picks up his cordless phone in his house and dials Jays number 213-555-2222 in LA. The call is converted into SIP packets at the box his cordless is attached to. A request is sent out over IP to the Jersey Cell's regional Proxy/Gatekeeper for his area and is routed to the Jersey Cell's border Proxy/GK. The border PROXY/GK check's its routing tables and determines to send a call to 1213XXXXXXX it talks to the PacBell Proxy/GK that it knows about. And then the PacBell GK/Proxy routes the call the to local LA reginoal PRoxy/GK and checks to see if Jay is available. If jay is at home, he'll have the option to pick it up, send to voice mail or his cell phone(his preferences are already defined) or any other adanvanced options that might be availble then.

    Never once does this call touch an old Bell legacy landline network except the phone numbers are provisioned under the old system. Because of this the cost for a DOMESTIC call will drop to virtually ZERO.(assuming the FCC and PUC's don't cause to much of a problem) As a result of this, There will be almost no profit to be made from it(really upsetting to telco's) so they will offer enhanced services such as find-me-follow-me, voice mail and loads of other worthless stuff everyone will buy but no one will use...

    There will still be a huge market for international VoIP.. it is far cheaper to install VoIP gateways and softswitches in 3rd world countries then laying seperate fiber for phone conncetions when they can bring in Internet Access(ala the new economy) and Phone server at the same time and they can at the change of a fly intercconect with different LD VoIP providers for the best rates, whereas in the old world you'd pretty much have to lay new fiber.

    Sorry this is so rambling. Back to the original article here, groups like FWD will be semi-successful but where you'll see real growth in next 2-4 years is when companies like YAHOO or new ones start providing free Proxy/GK servers to link thousands and eventually millions of SIP & or h.323 clients together. There is almost no overhead except for the cost of the Proxy/GK Servers. and evenutally all these companies will Peer with each other creating a new network to route calls. So you'll see a semi-fragmentation where mosts Domestic US calls will be made from your regular phone in your house, go out over IP terminate to another person's house IP and should cost nothing and next to nothing for terminating to a legacy POTS user and even cheaper international rates...

    I'll stop rambling now.. but its coming soon... get ready for it....
  • Why don't those damn British people just adjust their clocks? We have to keep going in and saving their butts from the Germans and what do they reward us with? The metric system and incorrect clocks!
  • In several countries, things like VOIP are outlawed, for protection of phone companies. Which means that this will be impossible to use to call people in those countries, or recieve calls from them. Considering the trend of companies having absolute power in the US, i wouldnt be surprised if the FBI made a raid on members of this project for participating in activities that could hurt the phone companies.
  • According to the site you need a "fixed IP"

    as near as I can figure, VERY few people actually have that, so, until that changes I don't really see this going anywhere...
  • Where this analogy breaks down is with the service, not the wires. Thegovernment should own the wires (or better yet, the fiber), and allow the various complanies to offer their services using those wires.

    That is almost, but not quite, happening already. Instead of taking over the wires, the government is forcing the indvidual companies who own the wires to share them for a "reasonable"?? fee. MCI/AT&T/Sprint/etc. do not own the wires in many of the places they offer service, but they are stil able to offer their service, because the government is forcing the wire owners to allow them to do so.

    Nobody is going to lay down parallel infrastructure when they can get the government to force the owners to allow them to use the existing infrastructure. The government should just take and manage the infrastructure itself. Think of it more like the wires being the roads and the telecom companies being the bus/taxi/limo companies. Ideally, I should be able to hop in my own "car" and use the wires directly.

    Edward Burr

  • In a likely possible future, it becomes even more necessary for the government to provide access to the communications network to each of its citizens if:
    • Its required to pay taxes
    • Its the method used for Emergency broadcast
    • Its the method used for emergency service requests (911)
    • Its how you vote from home.
    • Its where you pay all you bills from, in fact its where all payments from your bank account are authorized from. (since there is no more cash)
    • You need the net to access your private keyring at home so that you can enter into contracts (signed digital documents)

    Network access to each citizen then becomes a fundamental right and necesity on par with clean air, water, and (sadly still) access to the physical car/road network.

    No private company seems willing to step up and invest the billions in a fiber to the curb national network- this kind of project is government domain. It should be done not for profit, but as a basic service. Then, for more bandwidth a premuim could be charged perhaps.

    And IP will never work- we will need a new user-level protocol. Something hardware switched with fixed cell sizes I'd say. (We need low-latency and high bandwidth here)

  • The idea that all we want is voice communication is silly. Video communication is the way of the future. I am a freshman in college and my girlfriend is a high school senior. I hardly ever get to see her in person but I get to see her every day on the internet! I bought $20 netcams (Logitech QuicCam Express) for me and her, and now we doo FREE video phone calls every day. The audio quality is perfect, and the video is great considering the cheapness of the cammeras.

    Basically what I am saying is the Telcos are going down because they simplay CAN NOT compete with this technology. Video is much cooler than voice. I can do video free with the internet. I can only do voice with the telcos and that costs money.

    Now if only there were linux or bsd drivers for USB webcams and linux or bsd streaming audio/video apps...

  • Thanks to the fact that most of the mobile phone companies are now huge multinationals, I can expect my one little device to work in over 100 countries. I am with Vodafone, the British mobile company that is the largest in the world, with the majority of the European, Asian and American market.

    Hang on, I'm a Vodaphone customer. Tell me why it cost 300 quid for one month in Hong Kong on my Vodaphone? Roaming charges!

    Mobile phone companies charge an absolute fortune for the priviledge of using a mobile phone to call your base country from abroad. The only way to get "reasonable" costs is to use a calling card number while your phone is on a roaming provider.

    I agree the mobile is a great way to make international calls from wherever in the world you happen to be, but it ain't anything like as cheap as using local internet access in the local country will ever be.

  • has really been sucking anyway and looks like they might start blocking the international calls they said I could not make in the first place I think I'll have to sign up and become a node and buy one for my sister-in-law. This is *very* cool and the telcos can go screw themselves.
  • And I can't wait *grin*


    "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

  • That's why it has now decided to limit its free phone [msnbc.com] from MSN to 5 minutes, considering that free phone is going to be the practice and it will not get much mileage of it. Or is Microsoft and its partner totally unaware of the coming revolution and still hoping to make money off it's customers.
  • Er, last I checked, Norway was not a U.S. state or territory. Heck, it wasn't even part of the EU.
  • Yeah, and the MPAA didn't have the courts inhibit 2600's freedom of the press.

    One district court judge in the pocket of Time Warner made one ruling in the MPAA's favor. OTOH, Dow Corning was forced to settle for millions when sued over a product that had no harmful effects except in the overexcited imaginations of the scientifically illiterate.

    And that Jon Johanson kid's house was never raided.

    Er, he isn't in the U.S. The writer didn't say anything about Norway.

    Various companies didn't get *sucks.com internet domains transferred to them due to "trademark infringement."

    Let's see -- the revocations were by the UN's WIPO, under a resolution policy promulgated by a nonprofit corporation, affecting only root servers operated by one specific for-profit corporation.

    Napster was never [temporarily] shut down due to consumers doing their own file sharing.

    Lots of corporations are ordered to cease and desist from legal activities temporarily when there is a question of legality raised.

    Microsoft rules the desktop due to fair licensing tactics.

    So, if corporate power is so great, why couldn't they have been stomped out by the much larger blue-chip IBM?

    The DCMA was institued into law for the protection of consumers and artists.

    And the Americans with Disabilities Act wass instituted for the protection of corporate profits...
  • And the Americans with Disabilities Act was for the defense of corporate profits, right?
  • I can't help but feel that this is yesterdays news. I already have a cheap international phone service, and furthermore I can use it anywhere - on the bus, the train, while driving my car. Its called my mobile phone.

    GSM roaming is cheap like George Bush is on his way to discovering a cure for cancer. There's just no comparison.

    Fact is, landline phone service is and will remain for the forseeable future cheaper to provide in the long term than mobile for a simple reason: There is an infinite amount of wire capacity available, while airspace is already under severe contention. Furthermore, the major investment in wiring is already paid off in most developed countries.

    In the United States, phone companies can profitably provide unlimited, unmetered landline phone service for $15/month. Ain't nobody can do that with mobile.

    This is not to mention the fact that landline telephony provides better voice quality, and comparatively huge data bandwidth (I've got 1-megabit DSL riding on top of my phone calls).

    Mobile is an interesting novelty/status toy, and is genuinely useful for some, and in developing countries without the cash in the bank to cable everyone's home, it's a viable short-term approach. But a rational substitute for landline it's not.

  • What would be more interesting would be to arrange something like this as a wireless service. Would work nicely in cities, anyway.

    I suspect there are some sort of 900 MHz or 2.4GHz consumer handsets that can be programmed or modified to carry unique IDs.

    The transmission equipment for these is cheap; decent digital cordless phones cost US$40.

    Participants in the project who have broadband set up a box connected to their network.

    When someone wants to call you, they dial a number that goes to a room full of voice cards. The participating wireless base stations are notified. They see if they can find the phone with the appropriate unique ID. The call is thus completed.

    Phones could probably most easily be located using a roaming system similar to what the cell phone companies use today.

    The major obstacles are (1) potentially, the availability of suitable affordable hardware; (2) someone forking over the dough for the hardware to receive calls, (3) cost recovery for placed calls - hopefully this could be solved through cooperation with an existing landline freephone project, (4) getting enough base stations in the areas where users congregate

    If done for free, this should be legal under the provisions of the 2.4GHz rules

  • My _own_ downfall is that I feel that the supposed demographics of this page _should_ include folks with a bit of morals or perhaps simply the ability to resist the urge to steal.

    You're obviously trolling a bit, but I'll bite. "Stealing" is a pretty strong term to throw around. If I choose to walk or ride a bike instead of taking the bus, am I "stealing" from the bus company? Of course not. There's a cheaper way to do something, so rather than pay for the expensive packaged product, I'm willing to suffer a bit more inconvenience and do it all myself. If the bus company wants my business back, they can do what they must to make their service more attractive to me-- that's the beauty of capitalism. It doesn't work if consumers are somehow morally obligated to utilize the service in question.

    The only way using VoIP would be stealing is if I were somehow illegally obtaining my network connection-- which I'm not. When you pay for an ISP, a good chunk of your monthly charge goes to pay the carriers (people like Sprint, AT&T, MCI, etc.) They may suffer some loss of profit because they can't mark up every 9600bps voice stream to many times its cost, but I'm not stealing their money (and if they were somehow losing money on the deal, they would hike the network access fees.)

    As an example, airlines regularly charge much higher fees if you choose to fly midweek or on short notice. This is generally designed to snag business customers and make them pay higher rates than ordinary consumers. But if I choose to plan my business travel over weekends and insure that I make my reservations well in advance, am I stealing from the airlines? Of course not; I'm not breaking the law in any way. If their business model isn't working out, they can always change it. Welcome to the glorious world of capitalism.

  • Have you noticed that most of the companies on the web providing free pc to phone internationally have discontinued this service? Chances are they were only offering this service for the period of time it took them to establish their service and generate usage by consumers.

    This reaks with the word scam on it, but soon we shall find out if this is the case

    If you would like to make international phone calls free from your home and if have access to broadband internet access, you should consider joining the Free World Dialup III project.

    Well in order for anyone to use the service Broadband is needed which is not going to be easy for people to get provided that Broadband isn't as widely available as a dialup is. One thing to consider is how much your still going to have to pay in Broadband charges to use the service. Is it feasible to use this over a phone line? At least with Verizon my calls are a one shot price and even though their service stinks, there are no gimmicks.

    Free phone calls? What's the catch?

    Broadband and you have to buy their hardware!!

    Each person who is connecting to the network will be required to purchase a Free World Dialup node which will an estimated retail cost of US$ 100 and connect a telephone line (analog POTS) to the RJ-11 jack in the back of the node. As long the person has "always-on" Broadband access to the Net, the node will become a qualified FWD Node and free phone calling will be enabled.

    Where is Capt Crunch when you need him.

    In addition, Free World Dialup will provide an ability for anonymous voice chatting on the Net, together with our own instant messaging services.

    If your accessing via Broadband how are you anonymous?

    We are gearing up for our announcement and official launch in March, 2001 and we expect to reach critical mass by June.

    This is a big claim and has anyone taken a quick second to think if this is so legitimate why haven't the big companies jumped on the badnwagon as they always do, why haven't VC companies dropped heavy funds on this company? Why don't they even have their own domain?

    Anyways enough ramblings although their associates have pretty weird names that reak of scams too

    Free PC to Phone (US & Int'l) - Callrewards.com
    Free PC to Phone (US & Int'l) - HotTelephone.com
    Free PC to Phone (US,UK,Fr) - MyFreeLD.com
    Free PC to PC - TrulyGlobal (beta)
    Free PC to PC - PalTalk
    Free PC to PC - Firetalk.com
    Free PC to PC - Visitalk.com
    Free PC to PC - Buddyphone
    Free PC to PC & Voice Mail (US & Int'l) - BeeCall
    Free Internet Call Waiting (US) - BuzMe
    Free Internet Call Waiting (US) - WhoIsIt?
    Free Internet Call Waiting (US) - CallWave
    Free Web based Conference Calling - Conflab.com


  • There are approx. 35.7 million subscriptions in this country, which is about 54% of the population - see here [imimg.org]. And this number is still increasing...

  • by HardCase ( 14757 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:53AM (#447185)
    Considering the trend of companies having absolute power in the US, i wouldnt be surprised if the FBI made a raid on members of this project for participating in activities that could hurt the phone companies.

    What? Insightful? Hmm...how about Score:2, Out of Touch With Reality.

    There is no trend of companies having absolute power in the US. All the anecdotal evidence in the world can't change that. You're speaking from pure paranoia.

    Yeah, I can see it now..."Hello, FBI? Hi, this is AT&T. Listen, we need you to trot on over to those free VOIP guys and raid them because they have a better idea than we do. Oh, and while you're at it, Microsoft wants you to raid RedHat because they're giving away operating systems, too. You might as well hit Mandrake and SuSE, too. Oh, and whichever flavor of Gnutella is hot today...get them."

    I might also add that the "trend" of which you speak was first waltzed out over 150 years ago against Crocker, Stanford and their gang...so if it's a trend, it's about as slow as continental drift!

    -h-

  • by anticypher ( 48312 ) <anticypher@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:34AM (#447186) Homepage
    The site doesn't seem to have any information on any new programs, with the exception of the new version number FWD III (third attempt, I presume).

    There was one big reason why this project, and a number of similar ones, failed over the last few years. Unmetered access only exists in a few areas of the world, the rest of us have to pay for our local phone calls. When I plug my analog phone line into a SIP gateway and allow people to dial out on it, I end up paying for the local phone call. If I were in a popular place, such as London or Paris, I could end up with a phone bill in the thousands of dollars each month for providing my dialtone to people on the internet.

    Does someone have a link to more detailed information on FWD III? It would be interesting to see what they are doing with SIP gateways on broadband connections, just for IP to IP conversations.

    the AC
  • by doctor_oktagon ( 157579 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @04:58AM (#447187)
    The major telecoms players (AT&T, BT, etc) have been aware for some time that the Internet threatens their lucrative international revenues, and took the approach that they should get in on the act rather than mount significant opposition.

    But: if everyone and their dog actually starts using these services from home, then the telcos may actually try and start throwing their weight about.

    Has anyone actually read their DSL (or for that matter standard phone line) Terms and Conditions to see if this sort of thing is covered? I for one don't even know where the T&Cs for my phone line are!

    e.g. This phone line is provided ... blah ... must not be used to circumvent carrier trunk switches ... blah

    I never though I would say this, but is there a Telco Lawyer in the house?!

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @06:31AM (#447188) Journal
    Each person who is connecting to the network will be required to purchase a Free World Dialup node which will an estimated retail cost of US$ 100 and connect a telephone line (analog POTS) to the RJ-11 jack in the back of the node. As long the person has "always-on" Broadband access to the Net, the node will become a qualified FWD Node and free phone calling will be enabled.

    lemme see - so each person who has broad band always on can hook up a phone line that other folks can dial in and out of to get their free long distance phone calls.

    This is noble, but I am not that rich yet, to donate both the hardware and the dialup line.

    At least they were kind enough to supply this list of other free phone services:

    - - - -

    Free Telephony Services - 2001 Update

    (Note: all "Free" Phone to Phone services have been removed since the services have been discontinued)

    As the Free Telephony revolution continues, please visit our friends at the following websites which offer Free Telephony Services:

    • Free Phone to Phone (US & Ca) - Speak4Free [www.speak4...mtargetnew] -->
    • Free PC to Phone,PC to PC,Video Calling,File Transfer - PhoneFree.com [www.phonef...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to Phone (US) - dialpad [www.dialpad.comtargetnew]
    • Free PC to Phone (US) - deltathree.com [deltathree.com] Free PC to Phone (Hong Kong) - to800.com [www.to800.comtargetnew] --> Free PC to Phone (Hong Kong and Singapore) - e001.com [www.e001.comtargetnew] -->
    • Free PC to Phone (US & Int'l) - Callrewards.com [www.callre...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to Phone (US & Int'l) - HotTelephone.com [www.hottel...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to Phone (UK) - PC2call [www.pc2call.comtargetnew] Free PC to Phone (UK, Ireland, Germany) - Go2Call [www.go2cal...targretnew] -->
    • Free PC to Phone (US,UK,Fr) - MyFreeLD.com [www.myfree...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to Phone (US,Ca,Cn) - mediaring.com [www.mediar...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to Phone (Select US) - PopTel [www.poptel.comtargetnew]
    • Free PC to PC - TrulyGlobal (beta) [www.trulyg...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to PC - PalTalk [www.paltalk.comtargetnew]
    • Free PC to PC - Firetalk.com [www.fireta...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to PC - Visitalk.com [www.visita...mtargetnew]
    • Free PC to PC - Buddyphone
    • Free PC to PC & Voice Mail (US & Int'l) - BeeCall [www.beecall.comtargetnew]
    • Free Internet Call Waiting (US) - BuzMe [www.buzme.comtargetnew]
    • Free Internet Call Waiting (US) - WhoIsIt? [www.whoisit.comtargetnew]
    • Free Internet Call Waiting (US) - CallWave [www.callwa...mtargetnew]
    • Free Web based Conference Calling - Conflab.com [www.conflab.comtargetnew]
    • Free Faxing - eFax.com [www.efax.comtargetnew] Free Voice Mail, eMail & Call Forwarding (US) - uReach.com [www.ureach.comtargetnew]
    • Free Voice Mail (US) - evoice.com [www.evoice.comtargetnew]
    • Free Voice Mail (US) - BuzMe-->
    • Free eMail by Phone (US) - MailAndNews.com [www.mailan...mtargetnew]
  • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @07:10AM (#447189)
    But: if everyone and their dog actually starts using these services from home, then the telcos may actually try and start throwing their weight about.

    Let them. Their competition (read: cable, wireless, satellite) will move in take their business away from them. It's really that simple.

    --
    All men are great
    before declaring war

  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:52AM (#447190)
    You see, data requires better quality lines than voice, so many older copper lines that run long distance would need to be replaced or upgraded to keep up with the required digital load.

    True, but circuit-switched copper networks aren't cheap at all. The only reason they're economical vs. fiber is the capital investment needed to replace them. It's inevitable that most of those copper lines/switches are going to need replacement anyway at some point in the near future, and they're not going to be replaced with more circuit-switched copper (if your Telco has any financial sense.)

    A check against the proliferation of VOIP services is the unreliability and limited bandwidth of the internet today. Telcos don't have to adjust to everyone using their computers to make phone calls right away, they have time to build the infrastructure and spread the costs over a number of years (it wouldn't do to crank up data costs, thus driving customers away from that growing market.) Most Telcos know that consumer long-distance as a revenue stream is going the way of the dodo, they just want to make the transition a little bit more graceful.

  • by Urban Existentialist ( 307726 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @04:58AM (#447191) Homepage
    I can't help but feel that this is yesterdays news. I already have a cheap international phone service, and furthermore I can use it anywhere - on the bus, the train, while driving my car. Its called my mobile phone.

    Thanks to the fact that most of the mobile phone companies are now huge multinationals, I can expect my one little device to work in over 100 countries. I am with Vodafone, the British mobile company that is the largest in the world, with the majority of the European, Asian and American market. With the exception of America, all these regions offer a unified mobile system, and the upcoming 3G liscenses will unify things even more.

    Presently I am living in Cuba working on a Journalism project, and my phone works perfectly well here. It has also worked in India, Malaysia, Britain and Germany without any reconfiguring or dificulty. The only place I have difficulty is America, but I hardly ever have reason to go there anyway.

    3G liscenses will give me 256kbits of modem connectivity in just a few years, with mobile videophone, easy to use all over the world. I can't help but think that this news is the last gasp of the morbid and dying landline industry, which can see the writing on the wall.

    I'll be glad to see the back of landline telephones. In fact, I already have.

    You know exactly what to do-
    Your kiss, your fingers on my thigh-

  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:49AM (#447192)
    During human history, I've noticed that infrastructure follows a certain pattern. For a good example, take roads, something we all take for granted.

    During the very earliest parts of the last two millenia, 'roads' were little more than well beaten paths. Relatively few people used them so that they weren't worth providing. Mostly you stayed in your own village and just occasionally, if you were very rich, you took the path to other villages to sell your goods. You had to worry about highwaymen, and didn't feel safe.

    Even during the middle ages, what roads there were were maintained by baronies and kingdoms. There were stiff penalties for travel, and overbearing regulations. You didn't cross a landholder's property or bridge even if the road ran through it without paying the toll if there was one. The barons were responsble for keeping their own roads safe, but frequently did not.

    In modern times, so many people use the roads for so many reasons that the local and country governments have become responsible for maintaining them out of tax money, with no profit whatsoever. Their existence buffers the economy by providing an avenue for commerce, shipping, and travel.

    Apply this same pattern to the phone system. Before communication became important, only individuals used radio or line communication because of its relative cost and danger. Someone could easily overhear your private conversation. Before the telephone systems became 'accepted', the only real use for remote real-time two-way communication was to radio different parts of a battle for combat instructions.

    Fast forward to today. We have the equivalent of 'divine right of kings'-granted baronies on our communication systems. Only a few hand-picked individuals or companies have control over a vast amount of infrastructure. This is true for the U.S. and most of the rest of the world. True, the phone companies are responsble for it's cost and upkeep, but let's get serious here. Just how good is the U.S.'s phone system, even with the modicum of competition we have? Phone companies *could* be laying DSL to every home, building, or apartment but they're not.

    In the future, time being the only variable, we'll move into the stage where so many people use the communication infrastructure so much that it will be impossible to make a profit on. At the same time, it will be a necessary commodity for any given country's economy. The government will either rapidly or gradually assume control of the phone system, and like the roads, we'll assume 'free' use of them in exchange for tax dollars.

    If you think about this, this is already happening with the power-system in California. The government is paying for juice at taxpayers expense. This isn't likely to change in the near future.
  • by typical geek ( 261980 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @04:56AM (#447193) Homepage
    When it's 8 pm in California, and you think your UKian friend that you 've chatted with on IRC might appreciate a free phone call using this technology, please consider the time difference.

    A 3 am wazzup will not go very far in improving international relations.

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