The traditional PSTN network has been around for over 100 years and has served us well. But over the past 20+ years, the way we communicate has changed considerably and has seen a change in the need and usage of regular phone lines.
In this short article, lets look at some of the factors that will determine the future of the regular phone lines and networks.
In a recent 2013 article, Salon found that larger operators in the USA are already starting to make the move from wired to wireless phone networks:
Verizon, the country’s second-largest landline phone company, is taking the lead by replacing phone lines with wireless alternatives.
Since 2000, millions of copper lines have been disconnected and replaced by wireless networks, and by the end of 2013, it is estimated that in the USA, only 1/4 of households will have access to a regular wired phone line. Mobile and VoIP is taking over.
Take this graph from TeleGeography. This shows how voice minutes are growing year over year but TDM or traditional minutes are starting to decline. Since Skype was added to the equation in 2000, VoIP minutes have rapidly increased year over year, whilst traditional minutes have failed to match the same growth and have started to stagnate.
Furthermore, TeleCom Reseller suggests that regular phone lines and operators are a poor performing industry.
With smartphone sales dwarfing PCs and mobile growing at an unprecedented rate, mVoIP and mobile voice is the future. This alongside the huge user bases of apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Kik, Viber and Skype, means apps using data and in-app calling have a huge potential to take over.
With this, more people have access to mobile originating calling apps than ever before, and posing a direct challenge to traditional, regular phone lines.
The original PSTN network was built with copper wires covering the country. Whilst this can offer a higher quality of phone call, it is expensive to maintain and extend. Because of these additional costs, regular phone lines and operators can not compete with the costs savings of VoIP and WebRTC technologies.
Campaigns like the Google Loon Project and Facebook’s Internet.org are already working on expending access to the internet for those in rural or deprived parts of the world. Many were worried that removing copper based phone lines would leave many users disconnected, but the pace of technology is fast and is quickly giving more people access to phone calling services via different means. Soon, more people will have closer access to 3G than running water.
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