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SBC-ATT and VoIP Spell Telecom History

Just as important, the combined SBC-AT&T entity could provision and maintain these services with a higher level of speed and efficiency than has been achieved in the past. Up to now, it has been a hassle for long-distance providers to get local circuits and vice versa, but the combined company should have no such problems. Meantime, the merger of local and long-distance services isn't over yet--MCI remains a ripe target for acquisition. (For a different take on this topic, see "Devoid of Vision".)

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A related revolution is the growing dominance of VoIP. Many analysts predict this year will be the first in which enterprise VoIP equipment shipments will equal or exceed legacy phone equipment shipments. A number of new technologies are emerging, including presence applications and free voice services, such as Skype and FreeWorld Dialup.

VoIP's emergence will not only change the way telecom technology and services operate, but it will also change the way providers develop and maintain their services. VoIP will help long-distance carriers get back into the local phone business and make it possible for local providers to drive down the price of long distance. No matter what happens, there's no question history will view 2005 as a pivotal year for telecom.