Having made some suggestions of how OFCOM could tackle number allocation issues I do wonder where things have to end up on voice calls in the long run.
I am seeing a massive reduction in voice calls myself. People call to chat and gossip, but that is moving to facebook. People talk to businesses, but that is moving to web sites. Businesses talk to businesses, but that is moving to B2B systems and echat and so on. I am hard pushed to find a reason to talk to someone on the phone myself. Sometimes I want a chat with a friend or relative which is more face to face but I cannot be there - so I FaceTime them - we used FaceTime to show my parents their new great grandson. Most voice calls I have these days are junk calls ringing me and getting abuse.
So what has to happen to voice - long term?
In my opinion the long term for voice calls has to be that it becomes just another IP based protocol. We already use complex protocols for web pages, email, and much else. Voice can work over IP (VoIP/SIP). What it means is that a physical phone line becomes just a very restricted type of Internet access that only talks voice. The numbering becomes just a matter of DNS and domain names - something you pay for as a way of indexing your contact endpoint just like getting a co.uk domain for a web site.
It does not mean it becomes "free". Like any protocol over IP there are some costs, but many Internet access packages work with a large amount included for a fixed fee. To be honest "voice" is no longer the bandwidth hog (that's video, iPlayer, and so on). I send larger emails than the data in phone calls I make, without a thought, or a bill. As I record all my calls, I also send emails for each call I make/receive as well - it is good that emails don't have similar interconnect settlement fees!
Eventually, the idea of a physical landline that only talks voice protocol to the Internet, and not a general IP access, will seem strange and unnecessary, like faxes and telex. I wonder how long it will take.
The problem is, of course, a huge industry all over the world with a vested interest in considering "voice" to be a special protocol with special regulation, special number allocation controls, special interconnects and lots of money. To telcos the standard idea of "settlement free interconnect points" that are common in Internet terms (like LINX) is an abomination. They will not want this. But ultimately it will happen without them - we see that with iMessage and FaceTime now, traditional SMS and calls that bypass the telco monopolies.
They move with the times or they are left behind.
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