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What's Next in Telecommunications? 86

CNet is reporting that with the telecommunication industry's annual powwow coming up the hot button seems to be television rather than phones. From the article: "Judging from the diverse list of keynote speakers, it's easy to see that the phone business is readying itself for cataclysmic change. The traditional telecommunications market has already begun consolidating in anticipation. [...] Putting itself back together two decades after being broken apart, the new AT&T faces an entirely different competitive environment. Phone companies and cable companies will soon be competing directly with each other not just for broadband customers, but also for TV and phone customers."
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What's Next in Telecommunications?

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  • by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:28PM (#14958980)
    you keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.
    • I rather think it is you who doesn't understand it. Instead of the telephone companies all colluding to lock others out of their market, and the cable companies doing the same, we now have two networks going to nearly every home, both competing to provide the same services. I know Comcast and Qwest here in Colorado both tout how much better their service is than their competitors, and my connection speed keeps going up for the same price every month. Competition is good.
    • Taken from the Telecom dictionary:

      compete
      intr. v. competed, competing, competes

      To strive against another or others to attain a goal, such as an advantage or a victory, usually with the help of other large companies who can force laws through Congress in order to protect corporate interests

      use: That telecom company competed it's customers to death with a sledgehammer
    • Its totally in-concieveable that no-one got that reference! My name is creeves1982, you killed my father, perpare to DIE!

      I got it telastyn
      • Dude, you are forgetting that it's been almost twenty years since that movie. That's right, it's been so long ago .... those days television was called books.:-)

        My favourite scene:

        Vizzini: I can't compete with you physically, and you're no match for my brains.
        Westley: You're that smart?
        Vizzini: Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?
        Westley: Yes.
        Vizzini: Morons.
    • No more rhymes, I mean it! Anybody want a peanut?
    • Television kills the telephone star
  • "Television, the new phone-killer!"
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:30PM (#14958995) Homepage Journal
    I think we'll start seeing more convergence between the various standards -- today I watch more "television" on my PDA than I do on my actual television screen. I probably watch more on my t809 Samsung cell phone than on my TV, too.

    AT&T re-merging means nothing to me as AT&T (and Comcast and T-Mobile and the Chicago Tribune and WGN radio) mean nothing to me at all -- they're all dated mechanisms that came about because of the FCC allowing them what no individual had a right to anymore: the airwaves. The local communities were colluding with the cartels as well, giving right of way to only a few select companies in exchange for a nice chunk of change over the decades. I constantly bring grief to my village council meetings when I decry the few dollars Comcast continues to pay the village for every bill they collect.

    I see such a great waste in available bandwidth due to excessive (and in my mind [blogspot.com] unconstitutional) FCC regulation of frequencies. For me, data is data and I just want to get at it faster and in more areas. To think that we're still going to send data over the UHF and VHS frequencies 50,000 watts at a time in a "one size fits all" broadcast is unthinkable. Those same frequencies could be better used to let people get what they want, when they want, in the form they want, at the price they want. Imagine how much more bandwidth would be available if the frequencies were available for the NEXT wireless standards.

    The typical replies to a proposal such as this are "someone will broadcast on every frequency so no one can communicate" or "without regulation we'd get interference all over the place." I can not see someone broadcasting 50,000 watts on every frequency as the power needed to run a transmittor at that power on every frequency would quickly bankrupt the transmitter. A brigand could send random bursts on random frequencies, but a good software radio can frequency hop fast enough to not make this a problem. The idea of interference is also reduced by the software radio idea -- plus the fact that transmitters want to get the signal out more than they want to block the signal gives me the belief that we won't see these problems. An advertiser in today's market COULD by every advertisement spot on every media format, but no one has. Why is that?

    We have to stop thinking in terms of television, radio, cell phone, WiFi, narrowband, broadband, etc. Those terms can be filed next to telegraph. For me, I want real convergence: manufacturers finding ways to frequency hop faster, incorporating software radios that can adjust to what the receiver and the sender need rather than be shoehorned into a narrow band of frequencies and amplifier power.

    Yet we all know -- or should know -- that the frequencies aren't regulated for the people, they're regulated to keep control of the system in the hands of the elite -- the distribution cartels. Nothing will change over time, in fact I believe we'll see our beloved Internet regulated "to protect the people" but in reality it'll be regulated to protect the content cartels. The RIAAs, the MPAAs, the publisher's associations and all the various collusive elements that controlled information yesterday are looking to control information tomorrow, and most people will not mind.

    I mind because I see the power of data -- a small packet of information that isn't important until it is used. To think that we have gigahertz of bandwidth being used to try to give everyone the same thing is beyond me, and part of the reason I hate the FCC and want to see it disbanded completely so that society has a chance to meet our own needs in the future -- one IP connection at at time.
    • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker&gmail,com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:35PM (#14959035) Journal
      I constantly bring grief to my village council meetings when I decry the few dollars Comcast continues to pay the village for every bill they collect. Thats nothing, my local city gave a grant intended to help a small buisness with tech training to the local comcast to train their employees in installing their new digital services.......
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "I think we'll start seeing more convergence between the various standards -- today I watch more "television" on my PDA than I do on my actual television screen. I probably watch more on my t809 Samsung cell phone than on my TV, too."

      I'm sure the eye doctor likes having you as a customer.

      "I see such a great waste in available bandwidth due to excessive (and in my mind unconstitutional) FCC regulation of frequencies. For me, data is data and I just want to get at it faster and in more areas. To think that we
    • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:13PM (#14959352) Homepage
      Also along those lines... Just because it's possible for one person to park in the middle of a road, and tie up traffic for 20 minutes, doesn't mean we dedicate roads to individual organizations. If a person tries to disrupt physical traffic, soon enough a police officer comes along, identifies the individual, and eventually an appropriate penalty is handed out.

      With radio signals, it's a bit harder to identify someone who's trying to be disruptive, but it's also easier to jump to another "road" that's not busy. And if a perpetrator really disrupting a large number of channels, that makes it all the easier to identify them.

      • And if a perpetrator really disrupting a large number of channels, that makes it all the easier to identify them.

        Well, sorta... (If they stay in one place long enough for triangulation to work)

        But if there are many perpetrators (lots of software radios infected with a "virus"), then you essentially have a DDOS attack in the wireless domain... That would not be easy to circumvent nor detect. Especially if they are in a densely populated (wireless user) area.

        Although the "software" in a wireless radio opera
      • If a person tries to disrupt physical traffic, soon enough a police officer comes along

        This is essentially what the FCC was intended to do. Instead of coming along after the fact to fix the problem they try to solve the problem ahead of time by making sure the broadcasters weren't stomping on each other's signal. The proliferation of Wi-Fi is starting to cause problems like this. Since the 2.4GHz frequency is free for use and everyone and their mother is making a device that operates at this frequency,

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here's the problem - your vision is quite persuasive to me and to a /. audience, but I don't think it's that appealing to your average citizen. The telephone is a great product because it has a simple interface - pick up handset, dial numbers, and connection happens. TV is even simpler -- turn on TV, enter channel numbers or just use UP/DOWN to switch between them. These are things you can sell to millions of people and millions can use them happily because the interface is simple.

      Now I know that a TV stati
    • So said a wise man to me in the late 90s.

      Haven't seen much else, so I'm guessing more fraud.
  • by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:32PM (#14959006)
    Here in Norway we've seen a rise of companies offering "triple play", i.e. phone, broadband and cable all over fiberoptics. Affordable prices as well, especially the phone is a lot cheaper than what regular phone providers offer.
    • i subscribe to such a service here in NY. About $120 US a month for all three, where I was paying about $80 US for a DSL/phone line (with no long distance) before.

      Upside: obvious. Speed, etc. Downside, I find myself watching more television and I hate that. I didn't have cable before.
    • by anticypher ( 48312 ) <anticypher@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:26PM (#14961562) Homepage
      Triple play DSL installations are now the norm in both Europe and parts of Asia. They are mostly based on the G.992.5 ADSL2+ standard, the DSLAMs and CPE boxes have been available since 2002, with a big uptake seen about 2 years ago.

      Technically, there is 24 Mbps of downstream bandwidth available (with no voice band splitters, it can use the whole bandwidth of the copper pair). G.992 also allows for multiple ATM pipes, so a service provider can reserve 16kbps for VOIP, 1-3 Mbps for a single MPEG-4 video stream, and the rest for internet. There is also the concept of separate interleave delays for each ATM circuit, so a voice channel can have a low delay, video a high delay, and internet can have either a high delay with higer bandwidth or low delay with lower bandwidth (for the gamerz oh-so-important ping times). Even customers out at the far limits of DSL still have a few hundred Kbps of internet left after the VOIP and TV feeds.

      Video channel switching is done via a reserved communications channel between the set-top CPE box and the DSLAM, as you zap through the channels, the DSLAM chooses the video stream. The major downside is that there needs to be a fibre feed with all the channels going through every DSLAM, a couple of Gbit/sec worth of streaming video for the companies who have 300+ channels available. The video quality I've seen on every system is pretty poor, MPEG artifacts everywhere, skips and delays, and no synchro between audio and video streams.

      I've just returned from a working vacation in the U.S., and I was stunned at the primitiveness of the DSL infrastructure. The big 3 monopolies own the copper, Local Loop Unbundling (or naked DSL) is almost non-existant, download caps as bad as Australia, AUPs forbid all kinds of things like leaving an SSH server on your home machine for remote access. I'm glad to be back in the first world, internet-wise.

      At CeBIT last week, everyone was talking VDSL2. European providers with large ADSL2+ networks are upgrading to 50Mbps VDSL2. All the chinese manufacturers were showing off working VDSL2 systems based on conexant and broadcom chipsets.

      the AC
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:33PM (#14959012) Homepage Journal
    tinfoil

    buy tinfoil

  • "Across the board, there's going to be very little talk of traditional wireline phone services, which is kind of funny since that's been the phone companies' bread and butter for a hundred years," said Laszlo. "But it just goes to show how the industry is changing."

    Sounds like even the telecom industry is catching on to the fact that the Internet has made such service (e.g., tiered landline service) nearly irrelevant! Or at least, we'd hope so.

    I'd like to see the day where one pays for Data in and out

    • You get all of your services (TV, phone, internet, etc.) over one line. Heh. Like that'll ever happen.

      it happened... [fioslive.com] or was that sarcasm?
    • I'd like to see the day where one pays for Data in and out -- nothing more. You get all of your services (TV, phone, internet, etc.) over one line. Heh. Like that'll ever happen.
      Why the line? In theory, one can get their phone, internet (although I hear it doesn;t work in cities due to the canyon effect- but there will be repeaters eventually) and tv (Sort of with v-cast) from verizon with no wires. It won't be long before we dont need wires for most things. (Unless Tesla comes back we will need electrica
      • I want to know where these electrical wores come from... I want one.

        That aside, cable is generally speaking superior for things which don't plan on moving around much. It could just be me, but I quite like my PC having internet and suchlike working regardless of atmospheric conditions, storms, people using the microwave etc.

        I'm all in favour of blanket WiFi, as long as there are still physical sockets points and an accepted standard (Cat5 + RJ45 for preference) for plugging things into them. Just run fibre
        • I want to know where these electrical wores come from... I want one.
          Thanks for correcting my typo!
          Are you an English teacher, or just an asshole? Perhaps both!
          Have an awesome day buddy! And thanks again! I really appreciate your help!
    • I'd like to see the day where one pays for Data in and out -- nothing more. You get all of your services (TV, phone, internet, etc.) over one line. Heh. Like that'll ever happen.
      I already get TV, phone, and Internet over one line, the Comcast cable line. Is that somehow not what you meant?
  • VOIP + WiMax (or some such) will up end destroying core Cel and Hardline businesses, unless they are successful in tiering Internet access [blogmaverick.com] (i.e. charging or prioritzing certain content-providers/websites) - which would be a BAD thing.

    Barring that, it'll become about triple or quadruple pay (voice, IP, cable, etc.) bundles of access, as it has in Europe.

    I think the latter scenario is good for consumers, the former, well not so much.

    What's not clear to me is how, even with open web services (ala Web 2.0 hy [kotay.com]
  • Welcome to the Internet.
    Phone Voip with a low-latency connection
    TV Video Torrents
    Radio Webcasting
    The thing is you need a Real good connection to use those.Internet will slowly supersede all communication methods.
  • Judging from the diverse list of keynote speakers, it's easy to see that the phone business is readying itself for cataclysmic change.

    Cataclysmic? Not so sure the telcos and big media companies would enjoy that word very much. A cataclysm killed the dinosaurs, you know.

  • by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:47PM (#14959133)
    And then there's wireless, with companies such as Ruckus Wireless adapting Wi-Fi for broadband video.

    I wish the FCC would assign more useful shortwave parts of the spectrum to the ISM band [wikipedia.org] for 802.x so we could start experimenting with meshing [wikipedia.org] and maybe be like amateur radio where you buy your equiment and get online using an open standard with no company involded.

    Who needs a provider when the airways are a zero cost medium?
    • Who needs a provider when the airways are a zero cost medium?

      Who else would pay Senatorial salaries?

      The airwaves go to those with the money. "Public Access" just keeps enough votes to ensure the continuing influx of bribes^H^H^H^H kickbacks^H^H^H^H^H^ hookers^H^H^H^H "campaign contributions".

      God bless America.
    • I've never understood how mesh wireless makes any sense. Can you really imagine google's traffic all coming into their datacenter wirelessly? How would you like to be the next hop over passing data to/from them through your laptop? Wireless networks are almost always built on top of wired networks. For instance, the wired networks that connect cellphone towers to the world. The wired infrastructure is really cheap when you think how much revenue it will bring in over the years. I only wish we had muni
      • Can you really imagine google's traffic all coming into their datacenter wirelessly?

        With all due respect, and though you raise a very valid point as to practicality, I think all we're asking is for the FCC to give us the resources that will allow us the freedom to experiment and solve our own problems.

        These problems cannot be overcome today. But in the future who knows, what with multiplexing and models of data distribution, what ingeneous solutions someone may come up up with tomorrow? All we're say
    • While the airwaves technically are zero-cost, you're neglecting one very important economic principle: scarcity.

      Mesh networks and such sound nice and great, but you'll never be able to near the traffic that you can with guided media like copper and fiber. Also, unless you set aside a transmit and receive frequency between each member in a mesh, you'll always have a problem with collisions. It's the nature of the beast.

      Also, problems that arise in a wireless environment require specialized tools and skills
      • The attentuation you're talking about is the wavelength/(2*pi) "skin depth" which is why we need more shortwave and more of a spectrum spread to counter the baud limitation.

        If we're talking about plain old analog bandwidth with no algorithms then you're right, there's probably not enough to go around. But if we take significant chunks of the entire spectrum using short and long waves, combine multiplexing, and data caching/distribution models not unlike bittorent, it just may be possible to develop a pre
  • The big players will lobby hard to fsck net nuetrality, then we will have 15 connections comming into our homes, one for each provider, and they will ALL try to bundle all services so that you can't pick VoIP from one and ISP from another.... they all want 'all your base are belong to them' so choice will go down, price will go up, and the consumer will be even farther away from sane and value priced services....

    In the US, its been pointed out, we can't even get a decent phone... never mind decent services.
  • Wait... this isn't another iPod killer, is it?

    I'm so confused. :(

  • Free TV on the net at http://www.wwitv.com/ [wwitv.com] and free phone service at http://www.skype.com [skype.com]?
  • by PornMaster ( 749461 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:53PM (#14959183) Homepage
    We're headed to a duopoly on the pipes to the home, cable and ILEC. Of course, with FiOS, Verizon's figured out the way to block out alternate DSL providers... once the phone companies don't have to share IP access, and the cable companies don't (see NCTA v. Brand X), they'll have control of both pipes into the home.

    WiMax might have a place out in the burbs, but in New York, I can't see how it can possibly serve the populace without interfering with its competition.

    With QoS, Vonage is going to slowly go down the tubes, as Time Warner, Cablevision, Comcast, AT&T, et al provide themselves better IP service than their competitors. (We know what Ed Whitacre, AT&T CEO thinks about this... http://www.businessweek.com/@@n34h*IUQu7KtOwgA/mag azine/content/05_45/b3958092.htm [businessweek.com]

    Oh, well. Squeeze your buttcheeks together.
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <yayagu@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @03:58PM (#14959220) Journal

    Disclaimer: I was laid off after 21 years from this company... go figure

    Well, if my observations offer any insight (they probably don't)... the company from which I was laid off was hot and heavy in one of their most important endeavors at the time: converting their public facing web presence to C#/.Net technology. I certainly had many other suggestions for important work to be done.

    So, let that be one indicator of how prepared the telcos may or may not be for the shifting winds in the telecommunications industry.

  • How many "old farts" (i.e., 35+ yrs old) like me are perfectly happy having our TV service only at home, on one TV, our Internet service provided by another company (wireless DSL works great. At least my provider, OnlineNW, has a pretty much wide-open connection, unlike cable or telco DSL, which of course are not physically possible options for me anyways) or are still happy with, dare I say it, dial-up, and don't want/need today's uber-complicated, overburdened cell phones, because we just use it to make t
    • The answer to your question is most likely a large number. (I'm going to ignore the fact that your sentence structure made absolutely no sense and instead respond to the spirit of your post)

      I am not old, but I feel the same way. I just don't need the majority of this technology, yet. However, there are a lot of things that people in the world use that I don't need. For example: thong underwear, animal tranquilizers, SUVs, stilts, hangliders, artifical limbs, etc. Just because you don't need it doesn't

      • SUVs

        Now *THERE'S* something with useless features no-one ever uses...

        I'd make SUV owners pay ten times the taxes on fuel if they continue to use the roads - let them have fuel at the same prices as us "road car" owners if they go cross-country wherever they go. (In which case, of course, the SUV's suspension would be shot to hell within a year, the owners would realise they'd made a big mistake buying one & can go back to being less selfish and buy a normal car.)

        SUV owners? Put them on their own d

        • Re:Old fogeys... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Forbman ( 794277 )
          Why the hostility? I don't like SUVs, or jacked-up 4x4 pickup trucks, or things that imply some sense of "utility" but in practice have about zero.

          At least you don't live in Oregon, where "fairness" in road usage will soon be that, at least for cars, road taxes are calculated by miles driven on them, because there are "too many" Priuses and other more fuel-efficient cars on the roads, and revenues from fuel taxes in Oregon are "going down".

          Which is odd, really. Most of Oregon's road miles are in very rural
          • Why the hostility? I don't like SUVs, or jacked-up 4x4 pickup trucks, or things that imply some sense of "utility" but in practice have about zero.

            Firstly, I'm in England where we have a road system that already grinds to a halt whenever we have a half-inch of snow or a car with a flat tire on the motorway 200 miles away - so any additional, needlessly oversized vehicles contribute to that. (I actually believe our goverment could do a lot by giving companies tax breaks to use rail freight more and to get

    • Re:Old fogeys... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:27PM (#14959488)
      If you're handing out memberships to an "old fogeys" club, you can count me in!

      I'm pretty happy with standard DVDs on my non-HDTV TV at home connected to a reasonable hifi amp with a nice pair of speakers (one for each ear, works at my knowledge level of mathematics)...

      I'm in the UK and just have terrestrial TV, when I watch it. I can't justify paying for a cable/satellite service that has adverts on it - I'd pay for no ads or have it free with ads, no compromise there...

      I have a Nokia 6310i mobile phone that's about 3 years old & just makes phone calls & stores numbers - no camera, colour screen but it fits into my equally old car kit fine...

      I have a 1MB DSL service because that's all I can get in my area. I'd like more but I'll live with this until there's an upgrade, it's no biggie...

      I think far too many people (particularly the younger generation) get dragged into this "new technology is cool" thing without thinking about it - they just fall for the hype, hand over their money and off they go for six months until the next model comes out.

      To be fair, I was probably the same 10-15 years ago but then there was less choice, less advertising and less constant change - now I figure something is worth buying only if most or all of its features are useful to me.

      Yes, I'm turning into a miserable old git who actively avoids brand names ("How come Gap don't pay me to wear that T-shirt with their logo on it?") but what the hell... we ALL become our fathers one day...

  • The "revolution" in telecom requires viable alternatives.

    Telco competitors have not yet recieved their special "volume bandwidth service package" fee schedule the telcos will be providing to telco alternatives.

    Ditto for every other thing mentioned.

    Let's concentrate on allowing innovation to surface in the States without being litigated/legislated to death first.
  • The Telephony business died some time in 1998 but with 30 to 50 year depreciation cycles it's going to be 20 or 30 years before the carry away the corpse.

    The back bone is mostly packets and the cost of transmission is very low.

    If you measured all the data in bits that you use for a phone call and priced them by the bit, bit for bit that you might pay for a high speed hollywood movie delivered down a digital pipe.. your yearly telephone bill should about a $1.

    They only place they are making money is on softw
  • Yes... I can see this... evolution from voice to SMS, what is next? Is that a television in your future? Neehhh... just pictograms.
  • My firewall appliance records cable internet outages almost daily. The only time in 19 years I've lost POTS was in the middle of a hurricane, and it came back in less than a day. On the other hand, the DSL speed available to me is close to a tenth what is available from the cable. From where I live, this convergence talk looks like unicorns trotting around the marketing department. (There was a Dilbert cartoon...)
    • I am using 2 providers that essentially offer the same "we can do it all" bundles; one for telephone and Internet (DSL) and the cable provider for HDTV and DVR.

      The cable service is pretty good in terms of quality...when it's working, although I did install a custom line amplifier to insure decent signal to every coax connection in the house. The problem, and the reason I don't use cable for my network is reliability. Their uptime is really good, but certainly not 100%.

      I really like my DSL service...it's jus
  • My vision is a convergence of phone/data/tv and all communications channels/ways to data services. Phone companies will not matter anymore. Data companies will.

    At the end, in a couple of years, or decade(s) all traditionnal phone lines will dissapear replaces with data-lines, high speed fibers directly to each home. 10G wireless networks will be capable of over 100mbps directly to any wireless devices. Secure IPv6 will be the norm so each device in the world can be uniquely identified.

    There will be phone ad
  • It's become clear in recent years that bandwidth is a pretty cheap commodity & than most of us with fast DSL & broadband connections don't use anywhere near all of the bandwidth we have anyway - so sending more stuff down that bandwidth has to be a good thing for the consumer in terms of prices.

    Personally, I'm looking forward to the slow painful death of the mobile phone companies - a consortium of price-fixing, extortion-using pirates if ever there were any. The cost of mobile phone calls is *TRU

  • Hooray! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:48PM (#14959645) Homepage Journal
    We may finally get the videophone that was originally envisioned in the 50's. Of course, there're a lot of times when you don't want a video feed of the other party. That's probably why none of the current solutions have really seen widespread use. My company has a videoconferencing setup that seems to work pretty well for meetings, but I don't see it being common in the home anytime soon.

    It seems to me that the vision of the future we all have today is nowhere near as optimistic as the vision of the future they had in the '50's. They all thought that by this time everyone would have flying cars, video phones, personalized robots to eliminate boring chores, food pills that would provide the nutrition of an entire meal in one small pill and so forth.

    What's our equivalent of the flying car? It's not the flying car -- we've pretty much decided that that is an insurmountable engineering task for the foreseeable future. Virtual Reality? Doesn't seem to have the same style the flying car did and I don't expect VR to catch on anytime soon. Possibly not within my lifetime. A manned trip to Mars? I suppose it could be a manned trip to Mars.

    Don't get me wrong, we're still doing some neat stuff. We just don't seem to have our sights set as high as we did back then.

    • It seems to me that the vision of the future we all have today is nowhere near as optimistic as the vision of the future they had in the '50's.

      I've got a copy of the "Tomorrowland" DVD released by Disney a couple of years ago - mainly stuff about space made in the 1950's. Especially enjoyed the one about Mars - since I first saw it in 1962 or 63. What was a bit weird was seeing Ward Kimball as he looked in the 1950's as compared to what he was like in person in the 1990's (and he was still quite a charact

    • As the creator of dilbert said, honestly, why would you want to look at those people, most likely they are ugly. That is why we will have Digital Representatives. Attractive looking characters to represent us.
  • by boatboy ( 549643 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:01PM (#14959742) Homepage
    What I'd really like to see next in telecommunications is the ability to call someone from anywhere, speak into a device, and have a person on the other end hear what I say, all the time, every time. Once they get that working, the other things will be nice too.
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:15PM (#14959850)
    Think of it, those boring little static images you get on your snail mail. What if they could show you the latest Madonna video, or episode of Lost? Think of how much money the music, television and movie industries could make if they could beam their content to stamps?

    I am surprised Apple isn't realizing the potential of showing videos and playing music on stamps. I mean, the iPod Nano is slightly bigger then a stamp.

    I am also surprised Google hasn't figured this out yet, all that wasted space on a letter that Google could put ad words and Google adds on. That stamp is just dying to display Google content.

    Also, think of the potential of not having to buy extra postage stamps when the Post office increases their delivery charges on a monthly basis. You could setup a stamp website that takes people's credit cards and automatically bills them for the increase in delivery charges and update the stamps face value, while the letter is CURRENTLY in transit! The post office could change their postage fees as easily as Gas companies change the price of oil!!!! No more returned mail for insufficient funds ... unless of course your credit card is maxed out from all the subscription service fees your paying to get tv, music, movies and video on a stamp.

    Why is this so laughable, I mean, they thought TV on cellphones would work, why not stamps?

    I don't know, I think the telecommunications industry has exhausted all their ideas for cell phones, I mean, TV on cellphones was so last week. The future is in Stamps I tell you, STAMPS!

  • Cable now does POTS, and the telephone companies want to do TV. The new alphabet soup includes IPTV, VoIP, IPv6 over IPv4, with many many many more to come. Just wait and see the strange concoction brew. After all data is DATA and bits are bits, right?

    Perhaps a "Ham and Rye over IP with a pickle?

    Don't laugh. Nanotech matter printers are on the horizon. You just maybe getting' your P&J on whole wheat while watching "Mod Squad" over the same broadband wireless connection. .smm.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @06:12PM (#14960325) Homepage Journal
    Verizon and AT&T are sick of trying to compete with informed customers exposed to choices and chances to stick together in the conflict of their interests with vendors. Telephony was as interactive as they ever wanted to get - they always wanted to just shove content down their pipes to subscribed captive audiences. But cable TV arrived just when the telephony monopoly was weakest: the mid-1980s, when the monopoly finally was forced to at least compete in some markets, like long distance and mobile.

    But now they've returned, buying up regional Bells and mobile operators rather than compete with them. Telephony is a lot like a duopoly, at least in "primary service" (the corp that bills the customer and maintains the brand): AT&T and Verizon. Their real competition comes from cable TV, with its own infrastructure, brands and increasingly telephony, and a little from Internet - the parts they don't own, like the cablemodem ISPs. So their strategy is to fight their main competitor, which is clearly cable TV.

    They could have just made telephony better. Mobile phones so reliable they never permanently drop calls. Making the Internet so cheap that it "goes away" from customers minds, replaced by billable services. Integrating voice as merely a feature in every app that ties people together. Making ubiquitous "phones" the multimedia terminals of a complete telecom environment. But that meant taking a risk competing by improving the product, actually competing with cable TV in quality.

    Instead they just want to leverage their competitive advantages, especially regulatory, to kill the competition and inherit those customers. All this talk of "2-tier Internet" is just a way to use up all the extra bandwidth capacity on video, making it scarce and expensive rather than cheap. The "nonpremium tier" will force competitors to substandard performance, or to subsidize their own demise, just like telcos did to DSL competitors for the few years they taught telcos how to operate that business.

    All whether customers want more video or not. What we want is more P2P, more separated interests between networks, content and apps. More reliable, simpler features that connect us to each other. Instead we'll get a dazzling array of crappy features and content, all funneling a fat pipe from our wallets to the cartel controlling the network.

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