At SureTax®, we're focused on telecom and VoIP tax calculation. But, we can't help but be amazed at the transformation that the VoIP providers are bringing to the world and the affect that has on our phone numbers.
It wasn't long ago that 96%+ of American households had a landline phone. In fact, if you didn't have a phone number, you almost couldn't get credit. A phone number was that important. It was part of your identity, like your name or address. In fact, all the names and addresses and phone numbers were published in a big book that came out once a year. (I throw that it because some kids have never seen a phone book).
So, what's your phone number? Do you need one? How do you commercialize the connection between communication, technology and identity?
At one time, your phone number was hard coded to your phone. It was the physical location of your circuit and the place where your connection to the caller was made. Now, it's just a number that represents a virtual location, much the same as a domain name reflects a DNS server address.
So, as VoIP replaces the Public Switch Telephone Network, what happens to our numbers? The notion of "your phone number" is changing and causing ripple effects throughout the economy. It's affecting how pollsters project elections, how researchers learn about new product acceptance and how neighbors contact neighbors.
As telecom revenues decline, could phone numbers represent a new opportunity? After all, the technology may have changed, but our need to project an identity has not.
Research body Ovum, part of the Datamonitor group, has revealed the results of a new study that show there is due to be a significant impact on telecommunications providers over the coming years as a direct result of the rise of VoIP. Jeremy Green, principal telecoms strategy analyst at Ovum, said the primary threat to the market is that VoIP has the potential to reduce people's commitment to a certain telephone number.
"Operators should use telephone numbers as the identifier and address for cloud-based services, allow customers to choose numbers that are relevant to them and develop more application-to-person SMS applications," he suggested.
The report explained that revenue in the market is falling, but rather than voice traffic reducing it is simply switching to new platforms. Ovum said it is confident that turning people's reliance towards VoIP apps and the latest technology can ensure operators have a healthy future.
Some providers are said to have taken a pessimistic view of the future and have opted to compete on price in a bid to eke out what they believe will be the last of significant revenues from the telecommunications market. But they have arguably made a mistake, as it is claimed by Mr. Green that many "commercial realities and opportunities" lie in the VoIP sector and are waiting to be realized.
I wonder what Mr. Green knew about Facebook adding VoIP integration? it will be interesting to see how VoIP, voice and phone numbers re-connect to our identities.