VOIP reaches end of its proprietary era

The creative destruction that Skype began has now reached the point where it is eating its creator. This was inevitable. It is not a cause for sorrow, but for celebration.

News that Skype will go into a new open source FreeSwitch should mark the end of the proprietary era in Voice Over IP, and of telephony in general.

I was never wildly impressed with VOIP. Telephony is a low bandwidth application, in the eyes of the Internet. But it was the only application for the old switched telephone network on which today's Internet rides.

The idea of VOIP was to bypass the old network and move calls to the new network, which had a different business model. By pricing calls as bits, rather than as a defined service, VOIP saved money for people and helped destroy the old phone network business model.

Since then that business model has fallen. I no longer log long distance calls, or worry which side of a call is being charged. I pay a monthly fee for my mobile service, with plenty of "minutes" so that it's not an issue. So do most people.

When VOIP was new the proprietary nature of Skype made sense. It helped VOIP live in a proprietary, regulated world.

But that world is fast disappearing. Incumbent wireline companies are like newspaper monopolies -- that's why Verizon is selling lines to Frontier as fast as Frontier will buy them. Most stock analysts consider its FIOS plan a market failure.

The creative destruction that Skype began has now reached the point where it is eating its creator. This was inevitable. It is not a cause for sorrow, but for celebration.

Telephony is finally, and forever free.