The closed club of Telecom Operators has been shaken by the entrance of several new players both at the infrastructure level and at the service level. At the infrastructure level the strong emergence of IP transport has changed many architectures and led to the need for new skills. More than that. It changed the meaning of Quality as it was, and to a large extent still is, understood by Telecom Operators. A quality that has to be perceived by the end customer in spite of the fact that the network can only deliver “best effort” and of the fact that no single subject can control a communication end to end. This is a hard conceptual change for Telecom Operators that have guarded, as holy priest, the sanctity of their infrastructures working for years to come to acceptable standards, to preserve interworking….All of this has to be seen in a different perspectives. As communications has become independent of geographical boundaries (information is accessed without knowing were it is) services are delivered across networks by enterprises and individuals that do not control any part of the network.
Regulation has fostered this transition in several countries by imposing the unbundling of the local loop, by allowing third parties to act as virtual Operators (MVNOs – Mobile Virtual Network Operator). Skype today is the largest telecommunications Operators for international calls, although it does not own a single copper pair. An it is not alone. Viber, to name another, has moved a step further by hijacking the phone number, so that whereas Skype requires a Skype identity to set up a call (or direct the call to a Telecom Operator if a number is dialed) Viber uses the client telephone number.
Along with these Operators new communications service providers have take a foothold worldwide: like Apple with Facetime and iCloud or DropBox and iBox supporting file sharing.