Cheap talk

A couple of weeks ago, I read the following sentence in the Economist (see Telecoms and the internet: The meaning of free speech):

The acquisition by eBay of Skype is a helpful reminder to the world’s trillion-dollar telecoms industry that all phone calls will eventually be free.

Free calls struck me as too good to be true, but then last week I discovered that BT has decided to compete directly with Skype by under-cutting its prices significantly until the end of the year. You have to use BT’s VOIP software, known as BT Communicator, but then calls to North America are only 0.5p per minute. Last month calls to Australia were completely free. Perhaps the Economist’s prediction is correct.