VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is the undisputed rising star of the telecom industry. In fact, VoIP is such an important service that many analysts expect that by the year 2018, the US telecom system will be almost exclusively based on VoIP and cellular networks.
So what does that mean for customers? Essentially, it means that in the coming years, people will start to see VoIP service showing up in more and more ways, and as that happens, the telecom industry will change forever in favor of VoIP.
1.) The Slowly Dying PSTN
The PSTN, or public switched telephone network, is the infrastructure behind traditional telecom service. It is a broad name that refers to many different components that together make up one cohesive system: towers, cable, wires, etc.
Historically, the PSTN has been the skeleton of traditional analog telephone service, but as more people switch to VoIP and cellular for their primary phone service, the PSTN has been getting less and less use. As a result, 2018 is the expected death year for the PSTN.
Some legislators are concerned about this decision to close the PSTN because they are worried that VoIP is not a suitable service for all customers. However, it is becoming clear to many that VoIP really is a suitable service for everyone, especially as legislation changes and VoIP continues to grow into a bigger cornerstone of the telecom industry.
2.) VoIP Policy is Changing in Favor of Small VoIP Providers
Recently, the FCC announced that they would be reconsidering their status on VoIP. Right now, VoIP is generally considered to be an information service (like the Internet), so the FCC regulates VoIP only minorly. However, as many push for the close of the PSTN, it has become evident that the FCC will need new regulatory measures for VoIP.
So, will the FCC decide to regulate VoIP as a telecom service, or will they come up with a new classification for VoIP, or will they change the way they regulate information services? Something will have to change, as in many ways it would not make sense to regulate VoIP like a telecom because it is so different from traditional telecoms.
The proposed regulatory changes would be largely beneficial to small VoIP providers as well as VoIP customers. If the changes pass, the FCC will start to monitor VoIP providers to protect against unfair practices between providers that could lead to monopolies. There will also be regulations to protect VoIP customers from unfair or discriminatory practices, and providers will be required to ensure that the switch to VoIP will be easy and seamless for their entire customer base. Finally, providers will be required to guarantee a certain level of reliability in their E911 service.
3.) Mobile VoIP is Taking the World By Storm
According to a study by Juniper Research, by the year 2017, mobile VoIP users will number 1 billion. Lots of people already use mobile VoIP on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Many providers offer free or low-cost mobile app versions of their service for many devices.
As long as customers can access the Internet through 3G, 4G, or WiFi, they can make free and cheap calls with their mobile VoIP apps. And the more that people use their VoIP apps instead of their cellular plans, the less they will need to spend on cellular minutes. If Juniper Research’s numbers are accurate, this changing market may mean that VoIP will have a significant impact on cellular service within the next few years, as people start to depend less and less on cellular connectivity.
And as access to WiFi and data networks becomes more prevalent, it will soon be quite feasible that customers should expect to have Internet access with equal or greater reliability than cellular connectivity.