5 Generations of Business Telecommunicatons

Historically there have been five main generations of communications for business.  Here they are:

1) The Telegraph
The telegraph has been used for hundreds of years in various forms and is the most long-lived of all.  It has been proven effective up until recently where it was used for in-flight mid-oceanic aircraft communications.

2) Mechanical Telephones (Crank/Rotary)
Now more of a novelty, the crank and rotary phone was the first instrument to bring two-way voice communication to the masses.

3) Integrated Phone Systems (TDM Hardware)
The touch tone phone is based on a legacy technology called Time Division Multiplexing(TDM).  Its features are usually based on hardware components such as specially-built circuit cards to connect phone lines and extensions.  Applications such as auto-attendant and voice mail were originally bases on separate, stand alone devices but are now also commonly available on circuit boards as well.  These applications are often developed by third parties that base their solutions on a different technology than TDM.  For this reason we say that integrated phone systems are based on different technologies from different sources.

4) Converged IP Phone System (VoIP Servers)
One of the biggest industry transitions was from circuit boards to computer servers running Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  Having voice packeted and running on the data network presented some big advantages as well as some big challenges.  One of the biggest advantages was the cost savings associated with elimination of dedicated voice circuits.  One of the biggest challenges was, and still is, the complexity and expense of managing multiple voice servers on the network.  Because all the voice is now running as data but the a=server applications are often from third-party developers we say converged phone systems are based on the one technology from different sources.

5) Unified IP Phone System (VoIP Services)
Due to the challenges of managing multiple converged servers, industry developers responded with a simpler and more cost effective approach.  Instead of providing system features with separate servers, unified communications architecture uses a variety of services running on a single server or appliance.  The services are unified together by the manufacturer and delivered as one solution with one administrative interface.  Because these solutions are purpose-built from the ground up and not based on legacy technology, we say that unified phone systems are based on one technology from the same source.

Which generation of communication technology is best for your business?