Forget Long Distance, It’s All Local Now

This article about the distinction between long distance calls and local calls, and the costs and regulations around it made my head hurt.

However this paragraph made a lot of sense to me:

Most of the words that people are using to define the debate don’t mean anything anymore. Start with this dreadfully inconvenient fact: On today’s phone systems, there is virtually no difference between a local call and a long-distance call.

It strikes me that telephony has changed in a way that regulation has not been able to keep up with. When I got to the US in 1989 you had local telcos and long distance telcos, and when you signed up with the local telco you had to tell them which long distance service you wanted, things were simple, and expensive.

Now telcos do both local and long distance, provide cell phone services, TV and internet over cable and fiber, and VOIP is everywhere. I don’t have a landline anymore, I can make and receive international calls on my cell phone, and I can do video teleconferencing with my siblings in Europe (something, I might add, that the telcos have been promising since the ’50s).

Yes it sounds like the regulatory landscape is stuck somewhere back in the ’80s, and is going to get more complicated.


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