Traditional landline telephones are quickly becoming obsolete as the presence of mobile phones and Voice over Internet Telephony (VoIP) continue to rapidly grow. The accessibility and low-cost of Internet-based communications makes it a natural fit for the next major shift in telephony. We’ll be discussing these in the coming week. 

 

The Technology behind Internet Phones

 

VoIP is analogous to traditional landlines, also known as the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Instead of transmission over a traditional circuit-switched network, voice traffic is transmitted in data packets over a packet-based network. VoIP users incur no additional usage charges, other than the standard monthly Internet service fees. This makes it an attractive, low-cost option. In addition, the convergence of voice and data traffic in VoIP allows for increased functionality, including multimedia sessions.

 

The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an application-layer protocol that extends VoIP to allow for multi-party calls. SIP allows for the creation, modification, and termination of VoIP sessions with multiple participants.

 

VoIP is based on a central routing scheme (similar to the PSTN). Alternately, SIP is focused on point-to-point connections at the network edge. This shifts majority of the workload from a central server (VoIP) to the endpoints (SIP). SIP is only limited by bandwidth, versus the routing limitations of VoIP.

 

While VoIP technologies continue to grow in popularity, thanks in part to popular options such as SIP, a number of emerging trends will continue to develop in the next few years:

 

  • Mobile VoIP

  • UC in the Cloud

  • BYOD

  • Network Security

 

Mobile VoIP

 

Mobile VoIP allows mobile devices to send voice calls and multimedia communications using VoIP. Calls are not placed over the traditional cellular network. Instead, a third-party mobile VoIP service provider is used.

 

Mobile VoIP can be used anywhere WiFi hotspots or 3G/4G data connections are available. Users experience lower monthly costs associated with mobile phone plans, as they no longer use minutes or incur long-distance fees. Costs can be further reduced when using WiFi hotspots, as a provider’s data plan is not necessary.

 

UC in the Cloud

 

Unified Communications (UC) integrates real-time and non-real-time communication services. Users can easily access any service on multiple devices, using the same user interface. This provides a “unified” approach to management of multiple services across multiple devices, without sacrificing accessibility. A user can, for example, make calls on a mobile phone, and receive voicemail messages on a desktop computer or tablet.

 

While most of the global market is still transitioning from older telephony/message-based platforms to UC, UC-in-the-cloud, also known as UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) is gaining popularity. UCaaS removes the need for on-site installation and maintenance of resources. Most equipment is housed in the provider’s data centers, where subscribers pay a monthly fee for usage. As a result, upfront capital costs are traded for operational expenses. The benefits of UCaaS include:

 

  • Cost savings

  • Flexibility/scalability

  • Reliability, and

  • Fault tolerance.

 

Through the year 2016, UCaaS is predicted to experience a 16-fold growth in the global market.

 

Internet Phones

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

 

Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD)

 

BYOD is a policy allowing employees to use personal devices in the workplace to access company networks and information. Many companies are studying the requirements and impact of BYOD, with the goal of extending user experiences at work across whatever tools they use at home. The benefits of BYOD include:

 

  • Access anywhere

  • Flexibility

  • Mobility

  • Cost savings, and

  • Increased productivity.

 

Network Security

 

As with any network, the aforementioned trends present several security issues that must be addressed in VoIP technology. VoIP networks can suffer from the following security threats:

 

  • Call interception

  • Denial-of-service attacks

  • Service theft,

  • Data exfiltration, and

  • Malware.

 

In the case of BYOD, additional risks are incurred with the integration of personal and company data on a single device. For example, employees leaving a company or losing a device means private data may now be compromised.

 

While VoIP has grown tremendously in recent years, it is still far from maturity. The aforementioned trends will continue to bring this technology to the forefront of future telephony options for individuals and companies alike.

 

Please stay tuned as we bring you a detailed analysis of the above-mentioned trends.