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Is the phone in decline?

landline

Day to day my meetings invariably include sharing contact details – email address, phone number and, a little less frequently, social links and instant messaging IDs. The phone number most often shared is the mobile, rarely ever a landline.

As consumers we are just not anchored to one spot and as such the landline is no longer as important as it used to be. We talk on the move. Share documents and close deals without an office in sight. In fact doing business in just one place is increasingly uncommon. Businesses have become mobile. With the staff spread over different geographic regions, on trains and across continents the landline phone is effectively dead.

As an average consumer broadband and the mobile phone is all the connectivity needed. The importance of both has begun to inform our approach to communications. We’re not talking ringtones, we’re talking about talk, messaging and data. When confronted with a landline many of us are frustrated how ‘dumb’ landlines can be in comparison to smartphones.

The metaphor of the old phone is still useful. As the mobile proves we need a kind of phone. We need something to talk with, especially in the office – for those of us who still need an office. The truth is that it is still more comfortable to talk on an old style receiver than press a thin mobile phone to your ear for an hour. But this is where the similarities end – shape and comfort

As consumers we are just not anchored to one spot and as such the landline is no longer as important as it used to be.

The phone has been rebooted with VoIP. VoIP is a mouthful and it stands for Voice-over-Internet Protocol. What it means is that, like our mobile phones, telephone services are delivered by a network, often the Internet, and not limited to location.

The receiver may look like an old phone but it has a greater range of features. From text messaging and auto-receptionist services, to access from anywhere in the world this new phone is more capable and offers greater benefits. Where the landline just rang blankly VoIP allows us to download call data from anywhere in the world – home and away, in a coffee shop or in the airport.

It is the flexibility of VoIP and our changing expectation of communication that has relegated the old phone. Online telephony allows businesses flexibility and focus.

“VoIP is an upgrade for your business,” comments Ryan Macapagal, Affiliate Manager at VoIP provider RingCentral. “Whether you need to open a new office on the other side of the country, adjust your business hours on the fly, or prioritise calls from your most important contacts, online telephony makes it possible to adjust how you work, as you work.”

My old phone was tied by copper wire to a specific corner of my office. With the Internet, cloud computing and a generally more connected world we are not confined to a single spot on the globe. Or in my case, having a phone on the right side of the desk nearest the wall socket. Businesses need to be and are becoming more mobile.

“We are no longer tied to desks,” adds Ryan Macapagal. “We are seeing a shift to mobile, where our habits from home have followed us to work.”

The phone as we knew it is an antique, a relic of a different age. VoIP offers businesses of every size the sort of communications tools that only the tech giants and global companies could afford. The Internet and online telephony is delivering better communications and has swept the old landline aside.