Is the past in the future?

Is the past in the future?

We are just two months away from one of the biggest events that will forever change the face of networking beyond the LAN - the dereg-ulation of the domestic telecommunications industry.

After deregulation we could be in for a period of instability in telecommunications, followed by a return to very much what we have now - one major carrier, Telstra, one minor carrier - Optus - and a series of fringe players.

Or we could have several major new players settle in for a share of the market. British Telecom is already here and several US carriers are also here through a variety of interests in other companies.

Either way, deregulation and the ensuing events will have to be followed closely by the reseller community.

The likeliest scenario will be similar to that which was followed by the domestic airline industry after its deregulation, remember? We had the promise of many more carriers and dramatically lower airfares.

We did get one new carrier - Compass came and went (twice) - and a few that threatened to start up but never materialised. Now we are back to Qantas and Ansett and a slew of specialist regional carriers.

The reality is that our population and distance between major centres makes it very hard for a new domestic airline to compete on the same terms as Qantas and Ansett.

While I am betting that Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and a few others will be pretty much in the same market slots they are now, there will be a difference from the airline business: the cost of an airline ticket is determined largely by the distance travelled. The cost of a phone call over microwave links and fibre optic cables is not.

Once the network infrastructure is in place, the major cost of the call is maintaining the loop between the customer's premises and the first exchange.

This will mean some exciting niche players will emerge. We are in for a fun ride. But you'll have to keep watching.

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