Telecoms back in 1996

The way we experience time and change is a strange thing. Sometimes I feel changes in telecoms are slow. A recent article in a German online magazine which looks back on how the telecoms world in Germany looked like 10 years ago made me change my view slightly. Back in January 1996, the German telecom monopoly started to fade away and Deutsche Telekom had to lower their prices for short and long distances call considerably. However, even after the first round of price reductions, a 10 minute nationwide call still cost €3.25! Ten years later, the same call is only about 17 cents… Calls between two voice over IP clients are virually free, apart fromt he monthly flat charge for the high speed Internet connection.

Speaking of high speed Internet at home. Back in 1996, 14.4 or 28.8 kbit/s was state of the art, ADSL and speeds of several megabits per second to the home not even conceivable.

Also, who used a mobile phone back in 1996? Almost no one, which included me. Today, 10 years later, everyone seems to have at least two. UMTS and HSDPA are a reality, the wireless Internet is a reality, even though just being in it’s infancy and not used by many today. But the wireless multimegabit connection to the Internet is already there so it is very likely that it will have become just as much of an everyday commodity in a couple of years from now as ADSL today.

Lower prices have not led to cheaper phone bills for most people. Instead, they just communicate more, communicate while on the move, and spend the money they’ve saved on other multimedia services such as Internet access, music and audio book downloads, blogs, online photo albums, etc.

There are interesting times ahead!