TMCnet is hailed as the foremost community in communications and technology, and since 1982 and for over a decade-and-a-half, Rich Tehrani has been at the helm.  He’s an industry expert in all things VoIP, and we got the exciting chance to sit down and ask him a few questions.  He talked about how far the technology’s come over the past decade, and where it could be going In the future.


Other industry analysts like to rave about VoIP’s prospects in data mining, but Tehrani’s focused on something far more integral: quality.  With advanced HD codecs at their disposal, VoIP users can expect to experience calls like never before.


Hi-Def Voice Communications


“You can have more nuance in a conversation,” Tehrani explains.  “You get a better sense of the emotional state, the dynamic range of the speaker, higher frequency, lower frequency…”


He goes on to compare VoIP – especially the HD-voice variety – to the experience of a live concert, where the audience is immersed in the crisp, full sound of a performance.  The traditional PSTN phone lines, on the other hand, have been more like “hearing a concert over the phone.”


The biggest difference between VoIP and PTSN is in fidelity.  Whereas the PTSN networks, in Rich’s own words, were “designed in the 1960s with 1960s technology,”  VoIP codecs offer users a much greater depth and understanding.


Tehrani argues that this high fidelity alone will provide call center analysts much better material for extracting data from calls.


Hi-Def Voice Communications


While Tehrani will be the first to concede that data mining has been going on in call centers for years, he admits that VoIP definitely makes the process easier.


“It becomes more flexible,” he explains.  “In theory, I can send [call] traffic around as the conversation is taking place.  I can send it to the cloud, I can send it here, I can send it there.”  You can send it everywhere.


In addition to the increased flexibility, VoIP makes data retrieval easier, cheaper, and more efficient to archive and analyze.  And once again, he says a lot of this comes down to the quality of the calls.  He’s confident that VoIP is the inevitable future of communications technology, a technology that “is going to get cheaper and easier.”


Hi-Def Voice Communications


For someone so invested in VoIP’s high quality, it makes sense that Tehrani would be concerned for the repercussions of the FCC’s recent ordeals.  If carriers are allowed to discriminate against companies by slowing down packets, what could that mean for VoIP users in the coming years?


In the past, Tehrani recalls that “Carriers have been slapped on the wrist for discriminating against companies like Vonage.”  FCC legislation is threatening to grant unscrupulous carriers more power in these business relationships.  And while that anxiety may still be a few years off, Tehrani directed attention to a much more immediate disparity.


“We have the opposite situation where, companies are able to buy faster pipes,” Tehrani explains.  At first, that sounds like a good thing, but as you go into greater detail, a problematic big picture begins to develop.  “What happens to companies that aren’t buying faster pipes?  Does that mean, by definition, that they’re going to have a slower connection? …Then by definition, everyone who doesn’t buy a faster pipe has a slow connection that is not fast enough for VoIP to have sufficient quality.  That will present challenges.”


The Internet, which was once a great equalizer, is at risk for becoming another tool for institutions with money to stomp out startups and small businesses.  Rich Tehrani is just one of many industry experts sounding the alarm.  Luckily, another great equalizer might be on the horizon.


Hi-Def Voice Communications


When asked about WebRTC and what it meant for VoIP technology, Rich expressed excitement with its prospects.


“WebRTC takes VoIP to the next level,” he told us.  “Makes it a more accessible technology… any web browser on any device could theoretically use it.  Basically, it means you instantly are able to have better quality conversations.”


The only thing holding WebRTC back at this point are the prior investments that major companies like Apple and Microsoft have made in competing products.  With platforms like Skype and FaceTime essentially offering the same service, Internet Explorer and Safari have been hesitant to jump on the bandwagon with this new free communications platform, as it draws users away from their own championed service.


What will it take to make these companies come around?  According to Rich, WebRTC is just going to have to get competitive.  The brain trust involved have to figure out a way to “make it even more convenient to use WebRTC on [IE and Safari’s] platforms.”  Once this change can be implemented, it will mean huge growth for VoIP users.


At the end of the day, VoIP and Hosted PBX technologies are moving toward making the medium less and less important.  Whether he realized it or not, Tehrani provided us with the perfect mantra for the coming era of unified communications.  “Control the traffic so the device doesn’t matter.”