Delivering on the promise of VoIP
VoIP has delivered tremendous benefits to telecommunications but still hasn’t yielded the breakthroughs we all expected. It’s particularly disappointing for me to see how many voice over IP providers are copying the traditional telecom paradigm of circuit-switched networks, when IP communications don’t need to be limited to old models. We don’t have to be restricted by the limitations of the traditional PSTN, a system that started taking shape not long after the end of the Civil War. Calls should, and can, navigate the network responsively, and you can have granular control of voice communications so that you can bend it to meet your needs. But why does it matter? It goes to purpose. Most carriers are stuck in the past, believing their purpose is to provide dial-tone. I strongly believe that the purpose of the modern telecom carrier is to nurture innovation in telecom by providing greater transparency and control to those people that can lead innovation, application developers.
Conversation between geographically distant parties has been possible for over a century. But, ever since Alexander Graham Bell beckoned Mr. Watson from the next room, voice communication has been restricted by infrastructure, and control has been reserved for the “phone company.”
The advent of IP communications brought welcome change by freeing end-users from being physically plugged into the telephone network. SIP trunking simplifies the provisioning process, making it much easier to connect rapidly from anywhere. Yet, voice providers remain tied to the old way of routing calls through now virtual circuit-paths with all the failure points and complexity, and also remain far from deeper signaling.
While new telecom systems have to interoperate with what came before, the industry lacks vision (motivation?) to work outside of the established paradigms. With IP-based carriers conforming to the previous century’s rules, traditional carriers are maximizing their legacy infrastructure investment while shackling the promise of VoIP.
Calling for change
We started Flowroute to open access and control of the telephone network. We’ve spent years building the software to allow customers to instantly implement services, such as adding channels, adding and dropping phone numbers, changing routes, adding caller-id values, and much more directly through our portal or APIs. Traditional carriers make it challenging or impossible to do that for their customers and in some cases for other carriers, like Flowroute.
I’ve been studying telecom for most of my life. Most recently I’ve been paying close attention to the regulations that govern the transmission of voice calls. I have learned we’ve made many assumptions that restrict our interpretation of what’s possible, and Flowroute has used those discoveries to implement new ways to dynamically route calls around troubled network elements. That means end-users are no longer at the mercy of switch repairmen when it comes to the reliability of their phone connection. A downed switch can be abandoned, with calls redirected around it to more quickly recover service versus the time it typically takes to ‘roll-a-truck’. We have patented this Adaptive Call Routing capability but this is just a small step toward realizing the full promise of IP-based voice communication; there is still much more work to be done. Luckily, we are not alone in our desire and drive for transformation. The growth in the industry fills me with excitement for the future of communications, and what that will mean for the pace of human progress, particularly in how well we communicate with one another.