How many years until General Direct Dialed telephony dies?


As I'd posted this poll a week or so back, general direct-dialed telephony, a/k/a PSTN (public switched telephone networks) seem to be in trouble. I think we could be within five years of their total collapse. And no, not just land lines (already about 25% of their peak in much of the US), but _all_ direct-dialed phones: mobile and VOIP included.

The problem, as I'd written before, is paradoxically the _low_ cost of calls. This is inducing tremendous volumes of junk calls, with one ...



... rest of us, the idea that you can count on the fact that a business, organisation, or individual can make or receive PSTN calls will no longer be 90%, or even 50%, assured. (I suspect the breakdown point is somewhere close to 71%, at which point the chance that any _two_ entities have phone access reaches 50%.)

And once that point is reached, things will change very, very quickly. The flipside of network growth dynamics, with their positive-feedback cycles, is network _decline_.


@dredmorbius In Switzerland there is a clear trend with our clients I'm seeing to use Voice-over-IP in-house. The last client was using Skype. Their call center was the last hold-out with a traditional Alcatel machine sitting somewhere. Since we all have Skype installed, it's very rare for us to call them over the PSTN. This goes hand in hand with many calls being mediated by calendar events and Skype conference calls with screen sharing being the de-facto standard.

@dredmorbius Tech use is bifurcating: corporations uses email and Outlook and Skype; people use chat on mobile platforms. Emailing people and calling people via PSTN is declining. My dad sent voice mail via Threema, now he uses speech-to-text via Google and sends it via Signal... We basically only call each other for birthdays.

@kensanata One of the distinctions is between highly-regulated comms and the less so.

Banking, finance, and healthcare, especially, are quite regulated, and that tends to favour incumbents.

Personal comms are not, though they're also highly susceptible to low-cost, advertising- (and hence, surveillance-) based models.

Personally, neither approach appeals strongly.

@kensanata The problems I've seen / have with Skype are:

1. No Linux clients.

2. Apparently designed to facilitate at least state-level surveillance (see MBS and Kashoggi), if not worse.

3. Other technical issues.

I'm looking at VOIP options myself (OpenWRT and Turris open several avenues), though whether that's just an internal endpoint or actually useful (and usable) with the outside world is another question.

AFAIU some sort of external provider remains necessary.

@sean I stand corrected.

My impression is that it's a very mixed bag. Have you used it yourself?


@dredmorbius Oh, absolutely. But apparently, that doesn't stop the clients and my own employer from using Skype. As I said, a bifurcation of the road. Corporations and people are picking different roads.

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