FryUp: Telecom, as ever

Top Story: Telecom, as ever

Top Stories:

- Telecom, as ever

- What a boring week it's been

- What an inventive lot you are

- Telecom, as ever

Not wanting to break a winning streak or anything, I thought we should talk about Telecom.

The big kahuna of the comms market has a new trick up its sleeve: voice over DSL. From next year when you get JetStream you'll also be able to make voice calls over it.

So what, you say? You already make voice calls over your copper wire lines? Well, yes you do, that's true. This way will make someone very rich, though. Probably not you but, hey, it's a cruel world.

It works like this: at the moment when you make a voice call you tie up the entire circuit between you and your talkative friend. That circuit could be used to deliver gigabytes of information but, sadly, unless you shout and talk very fast, you're likely to only use up kilobytes of capacity. It's the virtual equivalent of having an eight-lane freeway from your house to your friend's, and then hopping on your skateboard and zipping over that way.

What Telecom is proposing is voice over IP (VoIP), which tears up your voice into small packets and flings them at any passing courier to take to your friend's house. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt a bit. And once they've got quality issues sorted out, and apparently they have, it won't tie up all eight lanes of the freeway for the entire length of the conversation.

What does this mean in the real world? Your call will take up much less room on the network and so cost so much less than it currently does. How much less? A lot less. You could, as the chief executive of the telecommunication users association (TUANZ) Ernie Newman put it, call your friend in Alaska and talk for days for pennies. Which would be nice for your back pocket.

What it does to the long-distance voice industry is even more remarkable. It completely destroys the voice business model and puts a new one in its place based not on the length of time of a call but on the amount of traffic sent and received. Even if you've exceeded your megabyte limit for the month, 1MB will cost about 20 cents and you can talk for ages before you hit that level.

So a call to Siberia will cost 20 cents, a call to the UK where you talk to your aunty for two hours might cost you 25 cents. A call to the US that you accidentally leave off the hook for several hours might cost you 30 cents. I'm sure the real pricing model will be more than that, but it's still going to sort the wheat out from the genetically engineered corn, make no mistake.

I'm in two minds about whether this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, woo hoo! Call and talk for as long as you like. Voice basically becomes data transmitted over the pipe, as it should be, and isn't treated as some kind of unassailable separate service. Prices plummet, users rejoice, Theresa gets a ticker-tape parade.

On the other hand, because Telecom owns and runs the local loop, this makes them an even more dominant player than before. It can seriously undercut any competitor in the long-distance voice market and still make a huge profit. That can't be good, right?

I'll give you one thing: it's never boring in the telco round.

Telecom readies DSL revolution - IDGNet

- What a boring week it's been

I mean really. The Herald usually has a story up each day that I can look at but this week they've skipped Wednesday and Thursday entirely. Stuff has the same press releases we've got – only we ran them in the "press release" column, not the news column. The Aussie press has nothing of real interest to report. Aardvark is talking about HTML and porn.

Even the Moscow Times technology section, until now a font of all things hysterical, has let me down, although I still find it amusing that one of Russia's telcos is called Vimpelcom. I see Epson Russia is looking for a business manager who must be "up to 40 years old", if you're looking for a change of scenery.

I can't think of a single IT angle on the genetically modified corn story.

What can I link to in the dear old FryUp, I ask myself?

Speaking of GE corn, does anyone else hate the way mainstream media have to tag each and every scandal with "gate"? What's that all about? Corngate is a stupid and useless phrase. It's just lazy. As a colleague asked: What happens when they get a scandal about a gate? What will they call that?!

I guess with an election looming major announcements are on hold, government and political parties have turned their sniper fire elsewhere and everyone's hunkered down out of the atrocious weather.

Aren't you glad the FryUp doesn't feel the need to fill in space with errant nonsense when it's a slow news day?

Oh. Sorry about that.

- What an inventive lot you are

So many suggestions to get round email nannies, so many alternative swear words, so much glee! You guys really have too much time on your hands. I suggest a cold shower or two and somebody doing some work.

The most sensible suggestion was of course to put the FryUp online somewhere for all to read - and it is: it's on the IDGNet home page. Of course, it generally doesn't appear till late on in the piece (later even than the email version, which I know a lot of you thought would be nigh-on impossible), but it's there, warts and all.

Amusingly, a search for FryUp and Fry Up brings about two entirely separate lists of stories: FryUp is the current iteration.

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