I wrote yesterday that I had just signed up with Skype. My first experimentation with it was to make a couple of calls to UK landlines via my PC and this seemed to work well and straightforwardly - and at very little cost.
However, I had my first telephone conversation this evening PC to PC, both of us being Skype members. Whilst the quality of the sound was perhaps not quite so good as with a normal telephone (possibly because the person I was speaking with is not on Broadband, but on a dial-up modem with a much lower transmission rate than my 2Mb broadband), but nevertheless perfectly good enough to enable us to have a pretty normal conversation - entirely for free, except for our usual ISP costs for our respective internet connections. OK, both ends of this conversation were in the UK, so the cost of a normal telephone call, specially late evening, would not have been great, but the person I was speaking with this evening will tomorrow be contacting a friend in Tokyo over Skype and the normal cost of a call there would NOT be negligible, but the call tomorrow will be entirely for free, assuming it works correctly. Completely amazing! I've been reading articles in magazines such as the Economist in recent months discussing the future revenue streams of regular telecomms companies for voice communications and how services such as Skype seemed to pose a major threat. Now that I have seen Skype in action I can well understand that 'legacy' telecomms firms must be pretty alarmed at the way things are moving. For the moment I don't have any direct shareholdings in any of these firms; their future commercial success is likely to depend on them being able successfully to diversify their revenue streams away from their traditional reliance on voice communications - it will be interesting to see over coming years which are able to make the necessary adjustments to their business models and the trick will be to choose to invest in those which manage to adapt.