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VoIP's Future Is Spelled W-A-L-E-S

Want to see the future of telecom? Look to the U.K. where British Telecom (BT) is doing the unthinkable: Abandoning its entire legacy phone network and moving wholesale to IP. Better yet, it's making its API available, so anyone, from teenage hackers to competitors, can create phone "mashups" like those done with Google Maps.
Fortune reports that the move to an all-IP network will happen first in Wales, and from there spread to the rest of the UK.

Some naysayers may believe that BT is committing virtual suicide. Making its API publicly available goes against the entire culture and history of the telecom industry. If everything is out in the open, where's the competitive advantage?

As Google has shown, the competitive advantage is in creating an open network to which anyone can add value and create applications. There's an entire ecosystem of amazing Google apps being created, because Google publicly releases its APIs. That's part of the reason the company is such a success.

BT is absolutely right here. Ultimately, all voice is going to be IP-based anyway, and there's an advantage to get there first. And if BT can create a phone network on top of which all kinds of great voice apps run, so much the better.

Soon we'll be in a world where voice communications is a commodity so cheap it'll be hard to charge for it. In that case, the value telecoms can add are the apps they create on top of the network.

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