As technologies gain prominence, it's usually at the expense of some other platform. The world of IT is the survival of the fittest – only the most efficient, most durable and most comprehensive technology can pass the test of time. But even for tried-and-true devices, there is always the threat of upheaval. Nothing is safe from the onslaught of innovation and design. As a result, some devices people and businesses have grown accustomed to may have their days numbered.
Perfect example – the telephone. Not the cell phone or Internet-enabled phone, but the landline that has grown so ubiquitous. Unfortunately for those companies that peddle the service, companies rely less and less upon landlines to communicate with clients and partners. Instead, the rise of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) along with mobile use has provided a more convenient avenue for communication than the comparatively limited landline.
VoIP's rise to dominance nearly complete
In the U.K. – which has been consistently ahead of the U.S. in terms of mobile use – the landline is on its way out, according to Huffington Post. U.K. telecoms regulator Ofcom reported that in the year leading up to June 2014, the nation spent 3 billion fewer minutes on landline calls for a reduction of 12.7 percent from the year prior. Operators lost 85 million pounds, or over $133 million. Research company RootMetrics found that 95 percent of U.K. citizens would not struggle without a landline, while the EU Commission announced last October that it would cease regulating fixed-line calls.
"There has been a decrease in volume of fixed calls as customers have turned to alternative solutions, such as voice-over-IP and mobile calls, but also to alternative providers, like Over-the-Top players," said Neelie Kroes, VP for the European Commission overseeing communications and technology.
Landlines cannot compete with VoIP's flexibility and cost. The calling apps are free, as users need only an Internet connection and device to use the platform. Landlines charge for their service and those prices are still going up. VoIP also allows individuals to easily place long-distance, international calls with no added fees, unlike their fixed-line cousins.
Security to become a primary focus
As the market turns to VoIP more and more, businesses will take steps to ensure their Internet-enabled phone systems are totally secure. As with anything involving the Internet, data security is a constant concern. Fortunately, awareness over security risks is growing and companies are learning what they can do to stay ahead of the threats.
According to Softswitch, the fact that employees leverage VoIP for its work-from-home capabilities adds to the potential risk of a data breach. But there are security regulations in place that penalize companies that fail to comply.
"There are no particular rules based on privacy laws, but the law does say you have to take reasonable safeguards [to protect personal information]," Eric Boehm, a partner at law firm Borden Ladner Gervais, explained to Softswitch. "As we have more security breaches in organizations, the standard for what is reasonable is going up. There's considerable liability if you don't meet that standard."
Small businesses would be wise to bolster their firewalls and other online security measures as they turn more and more to a VoIP platform. Employees should also be well aware that Internet-based calls are just as vulnerable to hacks as emails and other online activities.
Telecom industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in telecommunications equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.