How many years until General Direct Dialed telephony dies?


#telephony #deathOfTelephony #robocalls

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 ...


... though I think I've got some sense of the terrain ahead and useful lessons from the past.





@dredmorbius now for real thoughts.

I expect the phone to die a slow but sure death, first landlines and then mobile.

WRT. trends in history, my somewhat unsophisticated observation is that any piece of infrastructure technology that enters private market becomes first a battleground of morally bankrupt companies trying to become _the_ platform / _the_ provider, followed by stabilization on minimum viable set of common features; that stabilization happens when competition between morally bankrupt



companies jumps to an adjacent, fresh field where there's a lot of value to be captured. The end result seems to be that we're building our civilization on minimum viable technologies - once we have something that barely works as a foundation, it gets boring and private sector gets excited about something else.

Internet is somewhat solid because it took a long time before full-blown competition started.

(Not sure if my theory isn't invalidated by airplanes; passenger air seems a-ok



as tech, but then again, it's highly regulated).

I'm worried that whatever it is that replaces telephones will be worse in its usability, as dominant players each try to extract maximum value from their networks. It's what happened to IM space now; it used to work OK in IRC/ICQ days; now everything is shinier and more accessible, but I have to run 5 IMs just to talk with all my friends and co-workers.

It's sad because, taking a global view, we could do it right from the get-go, instead



of having to suffer decades of war for market domination, only to later pick the pieces and try to live with a minimum viable base infrastructure until it gets so uncompetitive against fresh new battleground that it gets scrapped entirely - like phones are about to.


@temporal @dredmorbius

I think you're describing the most visible subset of the investor class. They'll move on to whatever has the highest reward for the risk and they make the most noise because they're trying to attract suckers^Winvestors. But actual technology usually continues to be improved after it's stopped being cool. It's just that this is funded by revenue.

For example: the cheapass toaster I bought in 2007 is *way* better than the one my parents had.

@suetanvil @dredmorbius it doesn't always improve on the proper axes, though. As a counterexample, the microwave oven we have now, or one that I bought for my previous apartment, are much worse from the one that my parents bought some 20+ years ago.

Fun fact, that 20+ years old microwave oven *still works*, as good as new. Whereas I don't expect such lifetime from any appliance bought today.

@suetanvil @temporal @dredmorbius
In some ways, maybe.
But then there are designs like the Sunbeam Radiant Control toaster which puts almost any modern electro-magnet toaster to shame for it's simplicity, function and longevity. The race to the bottom does claim good design for cost savings at scale. Even for toasters :3

@Irick @temporal @dredmorbius

Depends on your priorities, I guess. Mine has some kind of chip in it that lets me select frozen/unfrozen and bread options plus a manual eject. These are all buttons on a plastic panel so I can’t burn myself on it.

It’s probably a better fit for me. But regardless, it R&D is being done on toasters.

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