Things that happened in 1972:
The Watergate break-in.
M*A*S*H premiers on CBS.
Atari is founded.
The G.711 standard is released by the international telecommunications union.
So maybe that last point is lost on a lot of you, but for those of us in the telecom and technology game, it’s a pretty big deal. The G.711 -- the most common codec (a device or program that decodes a digital stream or signal) used for VoIP communications -- is 42 years old. That’s like, 200 years old in tech life.
In that 42 years we’ve seen an explosion in the tech industry. Companies like Google, Facebook and Skype are bringing new disruptive products to the marketplace revolutionizing the way the world communicates (the founders of these companies are all younger than G.711, by the way). Amazing leaps in technology have been made since the standard was released, yet most of the VoIP world plods along with G.711 or, worse yet, uses compression.
So what’s come along that should be replacing this already-aged technology? Successful voice products for the next 42 years will embrace codecs with a couple capabilities:
First is high-definition voice. Several different codecs can do HD voice, with the most widely supported being G.722. The picture quality on your television has improved greatly since 1972, it’s time your voice calls took the same jump.
Second is adaptive bit rates. This takes HD voice a little bit further. Codecs such as SILK can change their bit rate in real time from as high as 40 kbit/s (5 times higher than g.711) to as low as 6 kbit/s (lower than g.711). Voice is shifting from phone-centric to application-centric. This means more and more calls are being made from PCs, tablets, and other smart devices. These devices are going to be expected to work anytime, anywhere and over any network. Being able to change the bitrate on the fly gives the codec the ability to automatically react to changing and poor network conditions while maintaining an acceptable quality of service.
Its time for the VoIP world to embrace the newer better options available. The G.711 is reliable, but technology has caught up and passed it by. It’s up to service providers to show clients there are alternatives out there, and more being added every day. If we all make the leap forward, it will ultimately lead to a better user experience all around.