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VoIP – the Importance of Standardization

Updated on January 10, 2012

Standardized Technology

The growth of a new industry is always accompanied by a lot of confusion about the technology that everyone will use. Every major provider or manufacture of of a service or product has the stake in the outcome of the war for the standard. The winners are able to enforce their protocols and technologies on the rest of the industry and will reap massive benefits in terms of network effects or licenses. For this reason, the best technology doesn't always make it to the top of the heap. What ultimately ends up being used is a combination of luck, marketing and strategy. VoIP is no exception. From the beginning, companies have tried to dominate VoIP with their own technology with varying degrees of success.

Skype for example, has such a large user base that at one point of time it was the de facto standard for all VoIP communication. Fortunately, this was also the time when a lot of people weren't using the full range of VoIP solutions available to them today. This meant that there was a chance for new standards to be introduced for the new users and this is indeed what happened. Currently, there are a huge number of different VoIP configurations and standards available to choose from.

But at some point of time we all have to settle on a standardized technology. The benefits of this are too great to pass up. If everyone uses the same technology and protocol, communication will be greatly eased and become more efficient and error-free.

Hosted VoIP
Hosted VoIP

The SIP Protocol

The closest we've got so far in standardizing the VoIP protocol is SIP. One of the reasons why the SIP protocol has achieved such widespread acceptance is that it restricts its role to the signaling functionality. In other words, it gives quite a lot of flexibility for variations and different configurations such as codecs etc.

Even this small leap in the standardization of VoIP has provided huge benefits to the industry. Most business VoIP providers now more or less agree on how to interconnect with each other. The "SIP address" is a standardized form of identifying users much like the e-mail address. Of course, there is still a lot of confusion when configuring a specific SIP client with a specific ITSP because the finer details of the VoIP communication are unspecified. Once everyone agrees on every single little detail used in establishing a communication session, things will be much smoother.

One of the reasons why the PSTN system has achieved such dominance today is due to standardized technology. Everyone knows the kinds of things which can go wrong because it's all happened before. VoIP needs to reach that stage before it can challenge the dominance of the entrenched telecommunication system we have at this time. Businesses on the other hand, have long moved on and hosted VoIP solutions are very much a reality with them.

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