The Communications Renaissance
Fast forward to the near future—to the year 2010. I just finished yet another training seminar. Sweating a bit from all the excitement and talking, tired from standing all day, and a bit hoarse, I walk back to my hotel and at the same time, join a late afternoon conference call with one of my colleagues, Seth. Instead of just holding the phone up to my face generating even more heat, I am having a live video and voice conversation with him on my new mobile phone (see Figure 1.1).
Figure 1.1 Mobile video call
We wrap up the conference call and then I head up to the hotel to finish out the day with a cold one overlooking the European-esque architecture of beautiful Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I had been before.
Now, rewind to the last time I gave a speech in Argentina in the days before VoIP became prominently available. That is a much different story. After my speech, I wanted to call my wife, but I realized I did not have a phone connection—not even a roaming connection! There I was on my US, unstandardized CDMA phone in a GSM-supported location of Argentina with no phone access—none! I ended up walking through the pouring rain to the nearest mobile phone store to purchase a pay-as-you-go phone with a new SIM card running on the Personal network there in Buenos Aires. After slogging through water up to my ankles back to my hotel, I tried to make the call. After several failed dialing attempts and several calls to a Spanish-speaking only network service line, I learned that that the pay-as-you-go phone did not have the ability to make international calls, so the entire adventure was all for naught. In the end, I used the hotel phone to make the hundred-dollar call to my wife (see Figure 1.2).
Figure 1.2 Perfect depiction of how I felt
Now, back to the near future in my mobile video conference with Seth! I’m not sweating at all thinking about the past situation because now, the video and voice call I just made, unlike before, was covered in my $29 USD per month plan. No wireless PSTN surcharge, no $100 USD per month wireless plan, no international roaming, no GSM, CDMA, 3G, and so on. My new wireless broadband phone that has HD-video and crystal clear HD-audio with no interruption is leveraging a technology made available for consumer use in the 1990s called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
That’s right! VoIP has been around for more than a decade! What’s most important to note is that somewhere, some business executive who works for a wireless provider or telecommunications (Telco) provider is starting to sweat. Why? Because this executive is beginning to realize what is happening—the end of wireless and wireline communications services as they exist today. No more SIM cards, no more international roaming, no more dictatorship! For more than three decades telecommunications providers have, similarly to how energy companies have, controlled the cost and service to their consumer and commercial customers by charging whatever rates and fees they want at will.
This time marks the beginning of the end of traditional telecommunication services and the provider’s ability to enforce unjust fees and limitations to its customers. This is the birth of a new world of telecommunications leveraging the power of voice and unified communications software! Your charter is to understand what this change means and prepare for what is to come.
For the past two decades many organizations have designed and developed technologies that leverage voice and unified communications, but have failed miserably, or they have introduced these services before thoroughly testing them for mass use. This has in some cases given VoIP a bad name, which is why my book is not entitled, Microsoft VoIP, but Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications. The purpose of this book is to identify the most innovative voice and unified communications provider on a global basis and its products and services for consumers, small businesses, and enterprise organizations.
You may know already that providers are developing new voice and unified communications technology to change the way we communicate forever, and for the better. Some typical names are Nortel, Cisco, Avaya, and other leading providers in the telecommunications industry. What you may not realize is that a company based out of Redmond, Washington that is popular in the area of software development and manufacturing will forever shape the future of voice-based communication and collaboration technology. This company’s name is Microsoft, and the purpose of this book is to provide insight into what these technologies are and to prepare you for the next wave of communications innovation.