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Open and Closed – Intro

TelephoneToday I attended the IBM Open Source Analyst Briefing which was held at the Marriott in Stamford, Connecticut. I will post a story about what I learned later but first I would like to share something about the Marriott. The hotel had a "Wired-for-Business" connectivity offer which enables guests to "Work smarter with unlimited…" in-room high-speed Internet access plus local and long distance phone calls. The cost is $9.95 per day. Not bad compared to many places. For me, using EV-DO is much better. I am already paying a monthly fee for it and it works more or less everywhere — but I have to admit it is expensive. I suspect many guests do not have EV-DO and may not want the WiFi offering. They will be confronted with $1.00 for the first 30 minutes of a local call, MCI "daytime operator assisted" rate plus 55% hotel surcharge for long distance plus a "connection charge" of $4.99 for each U.S. long distance call and $9.00 for each "International" call. This is one of many examples of companies exploiting those who are part of a declining market for old-fashioned services. Why would anyone pay $4.99 plus $1.00 for a call that they could make on their cell phone — probably within their covered minutes. As for international calling, there are many choices including Skype and mypeople.com which allows you to transfer from a cell phone to your home and then to a VoIP connection to Europe for less than ten cents per minute. Disintermediation is happening all over the place. Next time you need to call 411, try 800-FREE-411 instead.