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Broad and free voice communications...
By Rick Grams


October 13, 2005
Thursday PM

This is a capability that we all need to be aware of...
Yesterday Yahoo and Microsoft teamed up to announce the planned linking of both instant messaging services.  Included in these services will be the ability to have voice conversations over the Internet.
Not too long ago, Google came out with its own instant messaging tool and voice capable program.  And of course, even before them we had the Skype program available. There are even more voice tools available.
Ladies and Gentlemen:  In case it is not clear, the ability to speak freely across the Internet using various types of software will soon be a true reality.  It will not replace phone services right away, but as technology continues to double (or more) every 18 months we need to be aware of this as a community.
My concern is regarding the realm of business our City government is currently managing.  Ketchikan Public Utilities relies heavily on the revenue generated by phone usage (and we have some great people working for KPU).  I have no idea of what the profit margin is on the phone service, but I am of the opinion that this profit margin must be feeling some impact due to the new technology of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).
I sincerely hope that KPU has some sort of business plan to address the impending threat of this technology that continues to be a part of business and now homes.  All forms of utility services we rely on are increasing in expense; electricity, gas, natural gas (down south) and all services relying on these primary utilities.  What would happen if we lost the ability to provide a profitable telephone solution?
Most network/technology professionals in this town see the change on the near horizon.  The real question is - will KPU be able to adapt?  It is possible, but the organization needs to act now.
The best way to address this is through our local elected government.  Send them a quick email asking them about the future plans for KPU.  It is a business, but it is the city's business and therefore in the public's interest to understand the plans for adapting to the new technologies.
Rick Grams
Ketchikan, AK - USA




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