October 20, 2011

NOTHING COSTS MORE THAN IT USED TO:

Free, Free, Free Cellphone Calls! (Well, Not Quite Free...) (Robert Hahn and Peter Passell, 10/20/11, Forbes)

Heard about Viber yet? It's an app for the iPhone and for Android smartphones, the neatest means yet for making virtually free phone calls and sending free text messages to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Oh, and did we mention that the voice quality is typically superior to that of the mobile phone networks? The only catch is that both parties need to install the software.

Well, not quite the only catch. If Viber and similar mobile phone applications from Skype and others are widely adopted - and we can't imagine why they wouldn't be - their use will significantly erode the revenues of the wireless telecom networks. This would bring into sharp focus an issue that neither the telecoms nor their regulators are eager to confront: Should the carriers be allowed to decide which applications can be used on their systems, and on what terms?

Viber is not a technological breakthrough. Dozens of companies offer ways to take advantage of the somewhat arbitrary distinction between voice and data communications built into the wireless carriers' price plans. But Viber is the slickest, most seamless way to date to use so-called voice over Internet protocol technology on popular smartphones.

Posted by at October 20, 2011 7:15 AM
  

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