Will telcos embrace open source and what if they did?

Of course telecomm has been building with open source for 40 years. It's called the Internet. But the lines and switches which make up local infrastructure remain proprietary, and their managers remain highly suspicious of everyone.

At a recent communications software show there was a call to embrace open source from an unlikely source.

A telco executive. And not just from any little telco. From British Telecom.

Maria Pardee cited a project her group did for Pfizer, saying production increased five-fold and costs dropped 97% using an open source model.

To hear Pardee tell it open source is a Tom Sawyer business model. Everyone else does the work and you reap the profit because of your brand and control of infrastructure.

Of course telecomm has been building with open source for 40 years. It's called the Internet. But the lines and switches which make up local infrastructure remain proprietary, and their managers remain highly suspicious of everyone.

I see them every once in a while, around the corner from my house. It's a switching center dating from the 1920s, and across the way there is a training center now owned by AT&T. Once in a while some folks come outside to smoke cigarettes, but usually they're behind barbed wire and high fences.

I think they're the last people who will ever get the open source message. I think they would rather go out of business and rip out their copper before letting ordinary humans mess with their stuff.

Partly for that reason I no longer do business with them. The fact I don't have to, I thought, was a message.

Has that message been received?