A simple test to determine who is a true telecom veteran is to ask them simply have you heard of Harry Newton. Harry was the ultimate character and the most polarizing figure I knew in telecom. The man was responsible for launching the magazines Teleconnect, Call Center, Computer Telephony and others. He was an incredible businessman/competitor to TMC and we became a better company because f him.
The largest product Newton's company owned was the Computer Telephony Expo which took place in LA and attracted tens of thousands of people worldwide. At one point Newton had pig races at the show and various animals had logos of PBX companies on them. Love it or hate it, you were strangely drawn to these events
All of the above products were sold to Miller Freeman in the late 90s. MF eventually became CMP and these products were all shuttered.
So somewhere around 1998 or so we stopped hearing about Harry.
Newton came up recently in a blog post by Moshe Maeir, "Chief Flattening Officer" at The Flat Planet Phone Company where he discusses Newton's thoughts on telephony and how the same product can be sold for 2 cents or 5 dollars. This was pre-VoIP. When the Computer Telephony shows were at their peak, international callback was the huge market. The way this worked was as follows. You would call from an international country to the US and hang up - equipment in the US would call you back and connect you to various numbers depending on configuration. Obviously this whole market went away with the introduction of VoIP.
But still, if you want to use your cell phone you can get charged in the thousands of dollars if you call internationally or heaven forbid, go to a foreign country and make calls. The system is rigged and the mobile carriers have a monopoly and aren't letting go.
There are vary good work-arounds like Truphone, Skype Mobile, Packet8's MobileTalk. I have used all of these and like them all but each has its own limitation depending on the country you are in or whether you are trying to take and make calls or whether you have broadband access, etc.
So there are still massive arbitrage opportunities to sell minutes less than what people pay the mobile carriers. We are talking billions of dollars of arbitrage here.
Moshe tells me he will be introducing a revolutionary product at ITEXPO Feb 2-4 in Miami and it will be geared to resellers looking to profit from this specific opportunity. He says you can become your own phone company in an hour.
This all seems amazing to me and if he is right, he will have opened up an undiscovered profit opportunity for entrepreneurs the world over. I for one will be at booth 924 in Miami learning more.