A look at what’s on the receiving end of advances in telecoms
Like old books lying on the shelf gathering dust, home-bound telephones are today suffering the same fate. Somewhat old school yet an obligatory accessory to every home, the home-phone it seems has an uncertain future.
Forecasters predict that the traditional PSTN (public switched telephone network) telephone will become extinct.
The ubiquity of mobile phones poses a grave threat to the existence of the humble house telephone. Internet-calling is another destroyer. We have already witnessed the Internet erasing handwritten letters replacing them with e-mail. Is voice communication set to take the same path too? Given the increased popularity of Skype it seems we are already heading in that direction.
There is, however, a twist to this prediction. In all fairness the traditional house-bound phone does suffer from an inferiority complex in comparison to the mobile phone and Internet-based calling. But to say that it is ageing is an overstatement. In fact, thanks to new technology the existence of the home-telephone is being given a facelift.
Despite its competitors the home-phone still demands a rightful place in our homes. Safety issues, reliable reception and perhaps a pinch of nostalgia means we haven’t cut the cord yet. Thanks to a successful Norwegian company – Telio – the home-phone is being given a second chance.
Using the technologies behind Internet calling Telio applies them to your home-phone, resulting in unlimited free calls. Traditional home-phones are based on a series of circuit switches, whereas with Internet calling the data is transferred in discrete packages, which are sent from the source to the destination independently, and are assembled once they get there. This is far more efficient and less subject to distance issues. Additionally, the Internet is globally maintained whereas phone networks are implemented and maintained by individual governments and corporations so are more volatile. Also, a phone company needs to pay for the right to use a remote phone system whereas the Internet faces no restrictions or incurred costs to send data.
Intelligent solutions for Switzerland
The revolutionizing phone company utilizes future-orientated technology. In the early days of Internet calling the Internet and phone line were the same, which produced practical obstacles. Telio, however, uses an adapter, which is connected to a router. It passes through a VoIP gateway in order to connect the Internet to the regular phone device. It therefore doesn’t require a separate Internet line, so one can surf the Web simultaneously. Whenever someone calls you, the phone will ring at the location of the adapter. Sound similar to Skype? It beats Skype though because Telio allows you to call landlines for free and one can receive calls form normal phones to your IP phone subscription.
Following the success of its operations in Norway, where it was founded, Telio is the second largest fixed network provider since 2008 and is responsible for 63% of international traffic. In addition to the Netherlands, where it has received numerous awards for its product quality and customer service, and Denmark, whose favourable small-businesses market has been reaping the benefits Telio brings, the company is now operating in Switzerland. For just CHF 24.95 a month, Telio customers can use their fixed-line telephone to make unlimited free calls to the fixed network of 32 destinations.
Telio is an example of the rapid changes that are taking place in the telecommunications industry, where nimble small providers, circumventing the traditional telecommunication lines, are emerging in place of the big monopolies. A startling 80% of revenues from SMS and voice for mobiles are at risk from newcomers, according to a recent report by RBS.
Whilst we are currently witnessing service convergence, “The new trend that lies ahead of us is screen divergence so the next move for the agenda is the deployment of voice,” declares Telio CEO Eirik Lunde.
The existence of video conferencing is the predecessor to this new idea. “As many as 40% of business leaders are expected to invest in video calling during the next 6–24 months”, according to Cisco, a networking and communications company.
Given the inclination towards screen-based communications, it is anticipated that in the near future we will also be able to use our i-pads to receive and make calls. This is not just for business purposes but for normal calls too. “It is about extending the different channels to which voice can be delivered on” says Lunde.
Imagine sitting at home in your living room and picking up the remote control to answer a call. On the TV screen in front of you appears a picture of the person you are speaking to. This could be reality within a few years.
If we can progress from seeing our callers on a computer screen, and soon on to the TV, then what next? The microwave, the bathroom mirror, the doormat, in the shower perhaps?
In the meantime, the focus will be on providing good quality calling (in the latest assessments Telio received 5 out of 6 and specialist IT magazine PC Tipp rates it highly: “Telio Mini is very easy to set up and offers good call quality”) as well as screen services and innovative products.
“Telio is constantly looking for ways to advance the state-of-the-art,” says CEO Eirik Lunde. In fact, Telio’s IP video conferencing application is what gained Telio the prestigious International Forum Design Award in 2009. In living up to stylish Scandinavian design, Telio’s multimedia terminal LG-Nortel IP3870 combines sleekness with functionality to bring interactive information services to the centre of the household.
As Telio demonstrates, telecommunications in the modern era has two paths. First, get onto the IP network and then to use the latest technology to provide the best possible product at the lowest price. The industry is increasingly taking an application-driven stance because, as Lunde attests, “Today, telecommunications has to be committed to improving the user experience” and this is where a large part of the success lies.
On the topic of technology, Swiss Style asked Eirik Lunde what he thinks about the plausibility of 3D communication. He tells us that Telio is concerned with the business side only creating satisfied customers, not the hardware. Considering though that savvy hardware is largely behind the increased customer experience, this is good news for hardware companies. Suddenly, communications is no longer simply communication but a whole new platform for enterprise and innovation.
Are we entering yet another communication revolution? This time, no. In five years’ time, all of this will be ancient history, lying on the shelves gathering dust.
Article by Paula Svaton