Personally, I really dislike mobile phone companies. Part of it is because I used to work for Qwest. Part of it is that I've built up a collection of expensive phones that are useless with any other carrier. Part of it is the high prices they charge.
So when I read Steve Glover's article Microsoft's Free Internet Voice Service Challenges Vodaphone, I was thrilled. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, made the announcement last week at the 3GSM show in Barcelona. Here's a quote from the article:
"MICROSOFT has developed a Skype-style free internet voice service for mobile phones that City analysts believe could wipe billions off the market value of operators such as Vodafone.
The service is included in a mobile version of Microsoft Office Communicator due to be released this year. It will take the form of a voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) application that allows Office users to make free voice calls over wi-fi enabled phones running Windows Mobile software. It uses the internet as a virtual phone network as well as accessing e-mail, PowerPoint and other Office applications."
The ability to make free calls over a mobile phone just boggles the mind. The first thing that mobile phone companies will have to do is lower their rates for paid service. I can only imagine the discussions taking place in executive boardrooms across the world over this, particularly since some of those same boardrooms have been the source of so much greed and manipulation - WorldCom and Qwest being the two examples that immediately spring to mind.