Subject: Re: the Free Software Movement in Industry
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 15:38:42 -0700 (PDT)

       I can only see two ways for telecom billing to become dominated by a
       free-software package:

       (1) General-purpose open-source packages become more powerful, until
       an effective telecom billing system can be written in just a few
       hundred lines of Perl (version 15) running on top of PostgreSQL
       (version 20).

       (2) The ITU offers some large heap of money for the development of an
       open-source reference platform for telecom billing software, which
       every local telco can download and specialize.

I think these are both good ideas taken in the abstract (i.e. ignoring
details like "Perl (version 15)").  That is the approach that is most
consonant with my original post.  That approach is already at work in
some segments of the industry.

	   Conversely, the software companies' directors would want
	   the flexibility to say, "Our bid to telco A is too low to
	   cover the cost of the extra features we are implementing
	   for them, but that's OK, because those features will make
	   our product more attractive when we bid for contracts at
	   telcos B, C, and D."
Finance is finance.  After writing a solution for telco A, the company
that wrote it has a lot of state the gives them an advantage for B, C,
and D; so writing A at a slight loss is a good risk.  What they don't
necessarily have is secret source code.  The competition _might_ be a
little bit tougher.  On the other hand, the rules of the competition
can easily say "You lose points if all you do is submit someone else's
solution without adding value" or "The original authors get 10 extra
points because we recognize the value in sustaining their operation."