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Services make job mobility possible

 
 
Knowing About
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      10-13-2006
Call it globalization, outsourcing or telecommuting, American
expatriates around this small central Mexican city are in it up to
their earbuds.
I met a semiretired American photographer who works - when the
spirit moves him - by the Internet for publications in the United
States. He has a Canon 1D digital single-lens-reflex camera that
produces enough resolution for almost any purpose.
Prodigy Infinitum, a Mexican broadband service, makes broadband
Internet available even in many small towns. The American shoots, edits
the take in Photoshop and e-mails it off to New York or wherever.
Payment goes electronically into his American bank account. He then
either withdraws it from ATMs, which are virtually everywhere today, or
by electronic transfer to his Mexican bank.
It is not front-page news that you can send photos over the
Internet. It is interesting though that more and more people, including
expatriates, seem to run their careers entirely online, some of them
without having a fixed address.
More correctly, they only have a fixed e-mail address. The
technological pieces have come together to make the world a sort of
vast distributed office for these people.
For example, most of them have some form of VoIP (Voice-over
Internet Protocol) telephone service, which allows them to be reached
by phone almost anywhere on earth.
An example is the service from Vonage. When you sign up you get a
small router, roughly the size of a paperback book, and a phone number
in any area code in the U.S. that you choose. Suppose your number is
202-123-4567. You can be abroad, plug the router into any broadband
source, and you are a local call from Washington. No prefixes, no call
back, no passwords.
VoIP has done for telephony what Web mail, such as Yahoo and
Hotmail, did for e-mail: severed communication from geography. I
visited the office of a lawyer who works in the United States from
Mexico. He has a couple of VoIP phone lines with all the accessories
- caller ID, answering machine, etc. - and talks to clients as if
they were next door.
The legal resources he needs, such as law codes, are mostly online.
Most are free. If they aren't, he pays with a credit card. Nobody
cares where he is if the checks clear, so to speak.
Obviously, for some there are limitations to working from the other
side of the earth. It is better for a Washington lawyer to be in
Washington where it is possible to meet clients. But if your goal is to
make a comfortable living from Bangkok or the Yucatan, it is perfectly
doable.
A friend of mine in Northern Virginia maintains databases and
networks for clients across the country. Using a program called PC
Anywhere, he can log on to the client's computer and operate it
exactly as if he were there. Most problems don't involve hardware, so
he just fixes them online. He has had clients for years without meeting
them.
Recently, on vacation in Mexico, he tried going online with his
laptop to see whether he could log on to a client (there can be
problems with satellite links). It worked perfectly. He's thinking of
bailing out, keeping his current 703 number, and working from south of
the border.
Not everybody can telecommute from Kuala Lumpur. Dentists are just
out of luck. But many can, and small but growing numbers are.

For further information about voip you can visit
http://www.knowingabout.com/voip

 
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