The Commoditization of Voice
Death From a Thousand Cuts
For several decades, the PSTN phone system has stood as a single monolithic entity that was the sole outlet for people to talk to each other. It wasn't restricted to just one nation,but spanned the entire globe. Every country subscribes to a standardized system of telephone numbering and there is even a United Nations arm called the International Telecommunications Union or the ITU for short.
Telecom carriers have enriched themselves tremendously by charging for voice services on a per minute basis. The lack of competition in markets like the United States means that there is an effective monopoly or duopoly and very little incentive for either party to look out for the best interest of the customer and improve their technology and lower prices. One of the biggest scams of all time is the billions of revenue generated via text messaging which costs just about nothing to the telecom carriers to deliver. It seems however that this gravy train is finally coming to an end. The Internet is changing everything and it's only a matter of time before traditional voice revenues are a thing of the past.
One of the reasons why it's so difficult to fight services delivered online is that they take so many different forms. You have traditional voice applications such as Skype that allow you to speak to your buddies or even make calls to regular landlines. Then you have free services such as GTalk and Yahoo allowing you to speak or chat right from your inbox. There are also more innovative services like the one unveiled by Facebook a couple of days ago allowing individuals to send each other voicemails from the regular Facebook messenger.
On the business side, professional SIP VoIP services are offering features that the PSTN phone system simply cannot match. Add to this the lowered costs and improved flexibility of operation, and it's easy to see why enterprises have been in the forefront of VoIP adoption. VoIP is the technology that has something for everyone – both large and small. The sheer diversity of VoIP services will ensure that more and more individuals will start using at least one of them as a replacement and substitute for the PSTN phone system.
In the end, the telecom carriers will see a slow attrition of their paying customers as they migrate to Over the Top or OTT services that rely on the Internet. If you're business, contact a local SIP PBX in San Francisco who can provide you with VoIP on mobile and landline services.