Evolution of Voice Communication


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Evolution of Voice Communication - VoIP: The Replacement of POTS


Abstract

This white paper will explore the constantly evolving technology-centric VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) market. VoIP is touted as the future of voice communications and it is essential for businesses to be aware of market trends affecting this evolving technology-based product. The FCC and AT&T are continuing to work toward the sunset of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service).

Content

VoIP will be defined and the differentiation from POTS will be discussed. The current state of the transition from POTS to VoIP will be explored, and implications for customers will be highlighted. Although VoIP is a relatively nascent technology, there are many technological advancements and emerging trends with new ways to communicate in non-traditional ways.

  • VoIP is the term for a technology that allows voice traffic (i.e. phone calls) to be transmitted over the Internet, fully bypassing the traditional copper-wire infrastructure (i.e. the POTS network). Voice traffic is converted into small packets of data, which are then transmitted through the Internet and converted back to a regular voice signal. From a user’s perspective, a phone call feels the same except for the improvement of digital voice quality. VoIP voice traffic can be conducted on a computer with a headset and microphone, on a normal phone that is capable of VoIP or has an adaptor, or on a tablet or smartphone. Essentially, VoIP allows voice communications over the Internet, regardless of the device being used. The only requirement is a broadband signal to maintain a connection.
  • Business communications are in a state of flux as the FCC decides when the POTS, or traditional copper-based phone service installed in buildings throughout the world, will stop being supported. AT&T initially requested the authority from the FCC to conduct a test where they would stop supporting POTS in a small rural area and only offer VoIP; the FCC approved this test. The AT&T experiment remains in effect, and the findings are being closely monitored. The ultimate goal of AT&T (and other service providers) is to shut down the POTS network, citing rising maintenance costs on an aging infrastructure. VoIP services, originating in the residential sector, have slowly been adopted by in the business sector. The transition will occur in the near future, with dates cited between 2017 and 2020. In the end, residential and businesses customers will be using VoIP services as the primary business communication medium.
  • Within the VoIP market there are emerging trends and technologies that are pushing this nascent voice communication medium even further. For instance, voice communication is being transported over Wi-Fi and cellular networks, while VoIP had originally been dependent on a physical connection to a high-speed broadband network. VoWiFi (voice over Wi-Fi) uses a Wi-Fi connection to carry voice communications, where VoIP type communications can take place anywhere that has a Wi-Fi connection. Even more, recent smartphones have the ability to place phone calls over Wi-Fi, without connecting to the tradition cellular network towers, potentially improving voice quality and reducing traffic strain on the towers. The most recent technology advancement related to VoIP is VoLTE (voice over Long Term Evolution) which uses high-speed cellular data networks to make voice communications. LTE cellular data is considered the precursor to true 4G speeds, but marks a considerable upgrade over 3G speeds. As more wireless providers deploy LTE infrastructure, and eventually true 4G, the VoLTE market is expected to expand rapidly.