A panel about "disruptive connections" features several speakers that are trying to shake up the world of telecommunication. Alex Straub, from Truphone, a service that routes mobile calls via the Internet, preaches about "liberating the users" through Wi-Fi and says that "there will be Wi-Fi in every island in the ocean"; Jeff Pulver explains how Nokia and other handset vendors are putting Wi-Fi on their cell phones and that won't be a gift to telecom operators; Hjalmar Winbladh of Sweden's Rebtel (this is a true disruptor) describes his product allowing users to place international calls at local cost (it works by having both ends of the call use local connections to a Voice-over-IP point of access, bridging them over the Internet).
Former Nokia designer Marko Ahtisaari has recently co-founded Blyk, a mobile operators for 16 to 24 year olds, funded by advertising, that will be launched around mid-2007 in the UK first (technically, it will be a MVNO, using the existing operators' infrastructure). It will be a base service giving calling and texting - the key features of current cell hones - for free. "The ads will not interrupt communications", and it explains that initially at least it will be "not rich in pictures but rich in interaction".
The enthusiasm of Straub and Pulver seems a bit excessive: the backbone of the network is still in the hands of telecom operators, and even Internet applications that run on top of the network need massive investment in infrastructure in order to guarantee reliability, bandwidth, uniformity of coverage and access, etc. Moreover, open Wi-Fi networks are not commonplace - although the emergence of citywide Wi-Fi networks will change that.