Mobile Carriers Start Fulfilling Clarke's Vision of Free Global Calls

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-07-15 Print this article Print
Free Global Calls

"In a lot of ways, the Un-Carrier movement has followed Clarke's notion that big ideas pass through three phases: 1) it can't be done 2) maybe it's possible but it not worth doing and 3) I told you it would be a great idea!," Sievert wrote.

"The truth is, all we've done is listen to customers and give them what they want. If that counts as transformative, we're happy to take the credit because it means we're succeeding in moving this industry forward," he wrote.

Clarke, unfortunately, was a little off on the timing, just as he was optimistic about finding a Sentinel in the form of a monolith on the moon in 2001. Who would have guessed that having achieved its goal of sending astronauts to the moon, the United States would turn its back on manned deep space exploration within a few years? I don't think anyone could have predicted such short-sightedness. But now, 2010 has passed and his second Odyssey novel was likewise too optimistic. Will 2061 be the same?

In one sense, it won't. Regardless of whether we travel to Jupiter on a manned mission, we will at least have effectively fulfilled one of Clarke's predictions, albeit a few years late. People these days are communicating mostly via data connections, which are already becoming free, starting with T-Mobile and to a lesser extent with the other wireless carriers in the U.S. Voice calling isn't free globally yet, but I don't think that's out of the question either.

But voice calling is already free anywhere in the U.S. with any of the major carriers in exchange for your monthly service charges. Today, I can pick up my cell phone and call my daughter in the next town, my editor in California, my friends in Hawaii or a hotel on Guam, and it's a local call. And it doesn't matter whether the phone I'm calling is with my carrier, another carrier or even if it's another cell phone. If I use T-Mobile, that ability extends to any phone in the U.S. or elsewhere in North America.

How much longer before the rest of the industry takes note and realizes that free calling everywhere is a competitive must? It's already happening. My Verizon land line now gives me unlimited calling anywhere within the U.S. or Canada. I can call friends in any of those places as often as I wish and talk as long as I wish. Or more to the point, I can conduct my business the same way.

Is this ability transformative? It is to me, and it allows me to do my work more efficiently and with less overhead. And as you can see from the explosive growth of mobile phones, that transformation is already well under way. He might have gotten the date wrong, but as has been the case in so many ways, Clarke once again saw the future.


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