This is the first in a series about Voice over Internet Protocal (VoIP) and the trends that will transform organizations.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), often defined as IP telephony, is becoming ubiquitous in the business world. Companies are stepping into the 21st century at full throttle while abandoning their plain old telephone services (POTs) with glee.
Steve Day, head of business development at Network Telecom (UK), a leading provider of telecommunication services, says larger enterprises are now embracing the VoIP journey:
“Large enterprises are gaining confidence as they watch complex deployments successfully transition from traditional technologies. This will fuel the uptake exponentially over the coming years as the connectivity infrastructure becomes more available, robust, and affordable.”
A little communications history
I’ve always been fascinated with technological roots and a question that always pops into my mind is, “who’s your daddy?” From Internet pioneers, Berners-Lee, Cerf and Kahn, to the father of C and UNIX, Dennis Ritchie, I need to know who set what technology ball in motion. This curiosity isn’t any different when it gets down to the roots of VoIP technology either — there simply has to be a VoIP daddy out there somewhere.
If it were not for the invention of the telephone, the Internet, and Internet Protocol (IP) — the world would probably still be communicating via Morse code — imagine if you can, a world minus these inventions. Such archaic thoughts are unfathomable in the year 2015. But, if these three major inventions laid the cornerstone for the successful communication systems that we have today — what invention did we forget?
In the world of inventions, an integral nugget was deposited 27 years ago, when Vocal Tech Inc co-founders Alon Cohen (an Israeli-born entrepreneur) and Lior Haramaty designed and patented (US Patent 5825771), the first audio transceiver. Their invention inexorably changed the telecommunications industry and played a huge part in making VoIP possible today.
We’ve come a long way since 1995 when VocalTek created the first Internet phone.1 You can catch a brief glimpse of Internet Phone Release 4 software on pages 28-32 of this 1996 buyer’s guide.
That was back in the day when dial-up was queen and your connection was high-tech (or so you thought), with speeds ranging from 28.8Kbps to 33.6Kbps.
1994 – VocalTek’s Cohen and Haramaty patent the first audio transceiver.
1995 – VocalTek creates the first Internet phone software and Intel and Radvision began working on VoIP standards (H.323 standards).
1996 – The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) begins working on the H.323 standards.
1999 – The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), RFC2543 is released and becomes a key catalyst for the future of VoIP.
2000-Present – Entrepreneurs are abundant and offer pricing that beats up the old POTs with cloud-based solutions gaining popularity. Large businesses start switching to on-premise IP PBX solutions that offer benefits in cost, features, and productivity.2
The PSTN vs. VoIP Debate
Though an increasing number of companies are moving away from Public Switched Telephone Networks (PTSN) and diving into VoIP alternatives with advantages that offer greater scalability, lower cost, and value-added features – PSTN vs. VoIP murmurs still linger, reminding us that emergency calls (911), power outages, and natural disasters could leave us in the middle of an ocean with a boat stripped of its rudder and sails.
Josh Lowenthal, COO of Freeconferencecall.com, believes that some areas of VoIP will grow dramatically and some will hit the ceiling:
“For mission-critical use and collaboration, quality, and connectivity doesn’t measure up to PTSN…. When you have a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, VoIP is unreliable.”
Though Josh believes that the future of VoIP could be very transformational, he also believes that the biggest problem is commercial:
“Skype will never be interchangeable with Viber, thus limiting its potential. Consumers want multiple choices to bind these together. However, it doesn’t appear that any plans are on the horizon for these VoIP services to do so — which means PSTN will be irreplaceable.”
To #BeFutureReady, you need to have a VoIP disaster recovery plan in place. The following procedures will mitigate downtime and keep communications flowing. This plan should include the following:
Remote access: Hosted VoIP systems provides multiple points of protection to allow for communication recovery.
Redundancy: Geographic Recovery Plan.
Procedures in place: Rerouting calls to other locations.
What does the future of VoIP hold?
One trend that is kicking up speed in the VoIP realm is that of unified communications (UC) and it is a trend that is transforming the way mid-sized to enterprise businesses are operating today.
Will you #BeFutureReady? Curious? Want to know who changed the face of the telecommunication industry? What will the experts reveal? Stay tuned for Part II where VoIP and UC (unified communications) come together
This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.
1 Tehrani, R. (1996) CTI For ManagementTM Buyer’s Guide [Web log post]. Retrieved April 28, 2015, fromhttp://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/docs/cti-buyers-guide-1996.pdf [pp 28-32]
2 Forgrieve, A (2006, March 20/updated 2013). A Guide to VoIP History – The Rise of VoIP [Web log post]. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.whichvoip.com/voip/articles/voip_history.htm
Steve Day, Head of Business Development at Network Telecom (UK)
Josh Lowenthal, Chief Operating Officer at Freeconferencecall.com
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