Those are definitely bold words. “Biggest”, “Revolution” “Since Bell”. But I am convinced that we are crossing the chasm into a new world and Telecom as we know it is changing.
For years improvements in Telecom were incremental such as replacing the copper analog pipes with digital and then Internet Protocol packets. Even when we moved to IP Switchboards, we more or less copied existing features in a new format. Hosted PBX, a product I have been selling for years at The Flat Planet Phone Company, was basically just moving the existing system from the comms closet in the office to a Data Center aka as The Cloud. Functionality was the same.
My friend, Jeff Pulver spoke about this years ago. Jeff used to love to say that voice is just another application and at the end of the day, it is just bits and bytes. But, like many prophets, he was before his time.
But today we can definitely say – Voice is just another application and it is just bits and bytes. What happened? What has changed? A number of things have come together, the main ones being technology and the ubiquity of high quality internet.
- Telephony has moved to the web. Adding a “telephony” like feature to an application is the same as any other web feature (WebRTC)
- APIs have replaced the traditional network (Twillio, Tropo, Plivo, Restcomm etc.)
- Acceptable QoS, “good enough” for telephony, is common.
- Democratization of telephony. Any web programmer can add so called telephony, voice, text and audio to his application without knowing anything about how telephony works. All she needs is a few APIs.
I have been talking about this frequently for the last year. But today it really hit me. We were having a product planning meeting at fone.do and one of the participants suggested a real exciting feature. The consensus was, lets do it! It will be ready in a few days. That is unbelievable. In the past introducing a new feature in a telephone service took years of design, planning, testing and then more testing. Not to mention the whole marketing process. Now we are only limited by our imaginations, and web people really have great imaginations. Unlike Bellheads who may be limited by the past (I hope all my bellhead friends excuse me….)
With these thoughts in mind I am heading next Monday to Lisbon, and if you are in the Telecom world, so should you! At TADSummit, disruptive developers will meet up with legacy carriers and their suppliers to chart innovative courses in this new exciting world. It is fitting that this conference is taking place only a few hours drive from where Columbus set out on his trip. Like Columbus who had his theory, but found other lands, who knows where we will go?!?
Fone.Do is presenting on Wednesday at 10:20am. See you in Lisbon!