The first telephone call was made in on March 10, 1876, between Graham Bell and his assistant Thomas Watson. By about 1986 — 110 years into the journey — telephony was almost ubiquitous in most of the developed world, with phones in virtually every kitchen and office.

graham bell small

A phone number was specific to the device and, thus, its location. As a result, the phone was only usable in the context of a fixed location.

In the next phase, telephony transitioned from fixed physical location to virtual ubiquity. This started with the mobile phone and then accelerated with voice over IP and the softphone. First the mobile phone changed telephony from being a fixed location/device to a mobile device. Then VoIP enabled the device to be a computer and located anywhere in the world, regardless of networks, local telecom regulations, or other barriers.

This transition has presented and continues to present huge challenges to traditional telecommunications service providers. When all of the devices were only on the ends of service provider-controlled wires, managing them as controlled assets was possible. These were the good times for carriers… Entering this new world are the over-the-top (OTT) players designing their systems to provide services over the ubiquitous Internet, thereby relegating traditional service providers to IP transport only. The combination of these transitions and innovations are creating incredible challenges and stress on the traditional telecom business model. For example, Skype is reportedly carrying more than 50% of international voice dialing traffic today. While some carriers may be comfortable with only providing transport, most are not. The big issue they face is how to retain the value that existed in the tethered end device models of wired and wireless telephony in this new world of OTT services.

How can service providers position themselves in this new world of all-IP communications? The answer is Quality of Service. Read more about it on my blog post on NoJitter.