Almost 10 years ago I told the audience of my small business radio program that when broadband Internet connections – in those days we called them “the big pipes” – were diffused in the marketplace, the world will change. And so it has. Today, broadband Internet is everywhere, and it accounts for more than 75% of all Internet connections, including more than half of U.S. households.
But the news is not just how we connect – DSL from the phone companies, cable modems, 3G from the wireless companies, etc. – but also the connectivity applications that are a productive reality today and exciting possibilities for tomorrow. And these applications are creating paradigm shifts that are changing the world.
One very interesting 21st century technology is Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). In its simplest form, you make a regular phone call with a classic phone set, but instead of using the 19th century technology of twisted copper phone lines, you connect over an Internet connection and conversion application offered by providers such as Vonage, Magic Jack, etc. Now take this to the next level by converging your contact management application, a microphone/headset and VoIP, and you’re making voice calls to customers by clicking a mouse instead of dialing and holding a handset. And of course, the quantum leap is not having any kind of phone set on your desk – all calls are routed through your computer and broadband connection. That would be a paradigm hat trick, wouldn’t it? A competitive shift, a cultural shift and an ergonomic shift.
Even though we already have computer-based Internet voice connections with Instant Messaging applications and, of course, there’s Skype, which I use a lot, VoIP is really just now coming into its own. In the very near future watch for the complete shifting of all of our telephony paradigms to take place right in front of our eyes. And for small businesses this will be an exciting time because these shifts will create opportunities for lowering costs and increasing capabilities.
Someone who is an expert on the topic of VoIP and related applications is Leslie Ferry, V.P. of Broadsoft. Recently she joined me on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to discuss what we can get out of VoIP today and what we can expect in the future. I think you’ll learn a lot from our conversation. And leave a comment about your thoughts on VoIP.