VoIP has become an integral part of the day-to-day lives of many people throughout the world, offering a plethora of technological advancements and options, simplifying many communication processes and making interactions more convenient and consumer friendly. VoIP is one of the most talked-about technologies, and its prevalence is anticipated to grow in the upcoming years.
Over the last twenty years, VoIP has provided businesses around the world with the convenience of increased mobility, due to constant development and emerging cutting-edge technologies. The usage of VoIP as a service has grown rapidly – between 1998 and 2002, VoIP carried only 1-3% of all voice calls worldwide, but in 2005, VoIP was responsible for more than 200 billion call minutes.
With 2019 already underway, let’s have a look at what the future holds for the VoIP communications industry. In particular, we examine the insights and predictions regarding the trends and technologies that will likely influence VoIP’s profile this year.
Steady decline of the old telephone system
Telecommunication professionals predict the eventual demise of the traditional landline phone system. For example, in the United States, more than 90 percent of households had operational landline phones in 2004, and today that number has decreased to less than half that amount. According to a survey provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which keeps records of phone ownership in the U.S., in 2018 more than three out of four adults were living in wireless-only households.
In terms of businesses, there may be some enterprises that continue to use fixed-line voice connections, but they are the minority when compared to the companies using IP-based voice applications. According to a Future Market Insights report, the revenue from VoIP subscribers is forecast to increase to $204 billion by 2020. Enterprise-level features offered by VoIP systems will satisfy business requirements with innovative and cost-efficient options, as well as any necessary hardware and software support, coupled with prompt updates.
5G – the new network arrives
The quality of VoIP services are expected to increase significantly with the development of fifth-generation (5G) wide-area wireless networks, enabling faster communication speeds and response rates, simultaneously eliminating problems such as call jitter and packet loss.
Deloitte Global forecasts that the 5G network will arrive in scale, opening up new revenue opportunities for telecommunication companies who can offer faster connections for enterprises and customers. Wireless operators are currently investing heavily into 5G network development. According to the statistics, there were 72 operators testing the network in 2018 and by the end of 2019, 25 operators are expected to have their 5G service launched, a figure likely to double by 2020.
Kevin Westcott, Vice chairman and U.S. telecommunications, media and entertainment sector leader, Deloitte LLP, said, “It won’t happen overnight, but 5G will profoundly change our interactions and experiences, which is good news for consumers as they demand better performance and more access to content. Higher speeds and lower latency will enable new and innovative consumer experiences in areas from augmented reality to entertainment to medicine and smart cities.”
Blockchain and number portability
The telecommunications industry is no stranger to blockchain, with this technology having already been proposed for securing CDRs, billing data and access logs, and ensuring data authenticity. 2019 will witness the rolling out of new initiatives offering blockchain solutions for streamlining complex multi-party processes such as Mobile Number Portability (MNP) and Do Not Call (DNC) registries.
MNP features enable the migration of users’ mobile numbers to a different service provider, and blockchain can simplify that process. Blockchain will be beneficial in automating number migration, ensuring full transparency and safety for telecoms regulators, operators and end-users. Edwin Terek, the founder of DIDWW, said, “We see the future where there is no longer a need for number portability. Instead, all the phone numbers will be managed in one decentralized ledger, which will provide standardized access and routing lookup for all operators on a global basis.”
Growing demand for security
An important priority for VoIP service providers, corporations and business as a whole, is to ensure rock-solid security. The complex changes to communication systems, involving the diminishing boundaries between various networks and the broader perception of voice as a data application, will attract those attempting to abuse and exploit these systems. Therefore, there will be an increased development of applications to help ensure zero tolerance for fraud, and assist in making the services safe for users.
The recent implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) further demonstrates the importance of data security. Without any doubt, encryption is the best possible solution for sustaining operational efficiency of IP-based telephony. Specifically, SIP encryption services for VoIP safeguards against eavesdropping and toll fraud.
Further AI integration
Implementation of cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will continue to deliver improvements to the existing VoIP systems by effectively detecting poor quality calls, and dealing with these issues by acting as a self-healing network. AI will offer real-time problem solving for low bandwidth, high latency and faulty network configuration with minimal or even no human interaction. This cutting-edge technology will empower communication programs to analyse written and oral conversations in considerable detail, and produce beneficial insights into customer behaviour.
Chat Bots and other AI-oriented platforms will become more intelligent (for example, Google Duplex) and will open up opportunities for computer-to-computer communication, thus allowing companies to foresee and respond to their customer’s needs. The substantial amount of compiled consumer data will enable an improved service experience and make interactions more efficient.
Smart voice assistants and advanced automation
With recent improvements in voice assistant applications, AI will not only provide insights through analytics, but will also answer calls. This will provide positive results via enhanced interpretation of basic, simple commands, and improved customer interaction.
Cutting edge technologies encompassing machine learning and analytics, combined with software applications such as web robots, will be increasingly applied to handle different aspects of interactions, and streamline data gathering, education and support. Repetitive and monotonous routine tasks will be processed automatically and efficiently, thus increasing the opportunity for employees to acquire well-defined consequential data and successfully solve complex issues.