Friday, March 18, 2005

The Big Switch

At MIT the other day, I got to hear Mr. Giancarlo, the CTO for Cisco talk about VoIP and for all the tech talk, I actually was most struck by something he said about the FCC. Especially with Michael Powell gone and Kevin Martin now leading the effort, it seems more and more important.

Giancarlo reminded me of something I'd been hearing for many years -- the big telecom switch. When I worked with Bob Metcalfe on his book, Internet Collapses And Other Infoworld Punditry back in 1999, I got to speak with him and his colleagues Robert Lucky, Arno Penzias, Vint Cerf about the fact that the phone system was predicted to start carrying more data than voice around 2004.

As Giancarlo aptly reminded us, it happened last year. The telecom network now carries more data traffic than voice traffic.

He also pointed out that as radical an event as this big switch from voice traffic to data traffic was -- it was seriously UNDERREPORTED.

More than that, he said that the current FCC regulations are all premised on the notion of voice traffic and especially the pricing of voice traffic and that this is so outdated as a way to think of the telecom system, it nearly renders all the regulations completely obsolete.