This weekend, the Los Angeles Times and Blumberg News reported that Verizon plans to stop selling copper line phone service by the year 2016 (that is 7 years from now).
Copper lines are (were?) the backbone of the phone network for over 100 years. Well… cell phones changed that but land lines remained copper based until the emergence of VoIP phone service in the late 90s. The shift that Verizon is in the process of, and their FiOS service, as well as AT&Ts U-Verse service and most of the cable companies phone services are all based on VoIP technology. This same technology is what makes Virtual Office phone systems and Virtual Numbers possible.
I was fortunate to work for the VoIP industry pioneer VocalTec Communications and witness the beginning of this transformation together with Alon, my friend and colleague at Phone.com who was the Co-Founder of VocalTec. We certainly remember skeptics from the “big companies” and also can recall many industry “firsts” and see how they all evolved since but this is a story for another time…
Although all of us following the voice over IP industry have been predicting such a change for over a decade now and although there are already millions of users of VoIP phone service, putting a time frame by one of the leading phone companies in the world is pretty significant. I am not sure if it will take only 7 years to complete such a change (although the way Verizon re-wired my home town it may be) but the shift is happening.
We should also clarify that using the term “VoIP”, or “Voice over IP”, is somewhat confusing.
Many still mistake VoIP to be a call carried over the public internet – whether using your pc as a phone or speaking from a phone that goes through the internet, however there are so many different types of services that utilize this technology. Many consumers use VoIP phone service one way or the other without even realizing it (our own Phone.com – Virtual Office phone service is such an example). In the enterprise world more than 50% of phone systems now are IP based and international traffic is already dominated by “VoIP equipment” that replaced traditional phone switches.
There is no doubt we will just see more and more use of new technology and in a year or two even some of our mobile phone calls will be based on VoIP.
Does anyone want to predict when Verizon Wireless will announce that their service is all IP ???