It’s all just bits and bandwidth, after all

It’s all just bits and bandwidth, after all

: Here’s the final commodification of telecom:

Skype is soon going to be available on a cell phone. So you’ll be able to use the phone company’s bandwidth to bypass the phone company’s phone fees not only at home but also on the road (and, I assume, on wi-fi enabled mobile phones, you’ll even be able to avoid the phone company’s bandwidth and data charges). So no transfer of data, of bits of any sort, gets any premium at all. It’s all just a commodity, all just bits and bandwidth.

I think I’m going to drive down the way to AT&T’s network operations center and take a picture of the giant Golden Boy statue that used to stand by its headquarters before they melt him down.

: Right after I wrote that, I went to my RSS feeds and read Fred Wilson pointing us to a great PowerPoint and two posts from Tom Evslin, the man who probably is responsible for more change in media than anyone in America aside from (1) Craig Newmark and (2) the guy who invented the remote control. Tom was the guy who forced flat-rate pricing for the internet and then he created a company that, to oversimplify, turned VOIP into an industry at ITXC. In other words, he was a guy who helped turn bandwidth into a commodity, took value away from the pipe, and thus transferred value to the bits that travel on that pipe.

His PowerPoint and posts predict that phone calls will become like email — “free,” though email isn’t exactly free. Somebody has to pay for the equipment, software, storage, and bandwidth. But once that’s done, there is no incremental cost — and fee and profit — for the next call.

There’s no value in controlling delivery — not in telecom, not in media.