Another perspective on Google Talk, etc.
Catching up on emails and the blog roll, I see that over in Barcelona, Yannick has pulled together a very interesting post on Google's possible true motivations for getting into voice. He's drawn some interesting historic parallels which I have not appreciated until now.
As for the question he asks me in another post, I think it's safe to say that a substantial move by municipalities to alternative infrastructure would have material financial impacts, though I have to say that, based on how telcos report financials, it's almost impossible to answer with any precision. BT's Global Services unit, for example, has landed a few municipal contracts, some of which have not had disclosed values. Even where values are disclosed, the projects often involve a lot more than just voice, so I'm not sure how instructive these would be. The UK business telephony access and calls market is worth around GBP4bn per year, and BT has around 40% of business call volumes and 80% of business access lines. We can make various estimates about what proportion of the business market is accounted for by municipal/local governments, but I think in any case widespread migration must be of tremendous concern, moreso for other "integrated" operators who have relied on their mobile networks to recoup lost traffic on the fixed net (BT has not had this luxury). On a more concrete level, Andy points to the case of Athens Airport, where 100 employees reportedly generate savings of EUR163k per annum through (presumably Spectralink?) WiFi handsets. That implies savings of c.$2000 per employee per annum - i.e., money not going to the telco.