Internet telephony – “voice over IP” or “VOIP” – is just now approaching the mass market. Consumer products are hitting the market from the likes of Linksys designed to work with AT&T and Vonage systems, for example, and Skype has built up millions of users.

John Dvorak, a long-time contrarian tech columnist, predicts that the phone companies will eventually own VOIP and charge their traditionally high rates, after pressuring regulators and legislators to put competitors out of business. It worked for DSL, and the first steps are already being taken to do the same thing to VOIP. Next time you see a fuss being made about 911 service, think independently about whether you feel it’s a real issue; it may be in the news, but that’s because the telcos are paying lots of people to convince you that it’s a crisis. Dvorak’s article is a thought-provoking read.