The once distinct disciplines of telecommunications and IT have experienced a forced convergence during the last quarter century. Since the introduction of Voice over IP ("VOIP") in the 1990's, technical professionals from these respective disciplines were required to cross over in order harness the functional and economic benefits of VOIP. Suddenly software engineers were forced to understand PRI protocols, and telecom professionals were tormented with nightmares about the perils of NAT. This marriage fueled the SIP revolution which drove down telecommunications infrastructure costs and threatened obsolescence for legacy carriers and service provider facilities.
Meanwhile, mostly disjoint from the VOIP world, the Internet revolution spawned a new breed of software engineer. These swashbucklers possessed tremendous creativity and agility, creating and assimilating new web technologies at blazing speed. Full-Stack developers, those familiar with all layers of web design, possessed the skills to harness the tools and turn concepts into finished products with amazing efficiency. Circa 2011 the first browser incorporating WebRTC, an application programming interface ("API") for real time communications, was developed. This breakthrough concept enabled a browser to capture audio and video from microphones and cameras without the need for additional programs, plugins, or applets. WebRTC also provided a framework for browsers and mobile devices to inter-operate, exchanging media and data using standardized and established web technologies. Suddenly, web developers with little knowledge of telecom concepts could create mashups capable of voice and data communications between diverse devices. Calling and conferencing use cases that formerly required substantial telecom infrastructure can now be fulfilled by websites with simple Internet connectivity.
The merging of telecom and web disciplines continues to move forward in leaps and bounds, opening the doors for tremendous new products and capabilities. It’s an exciting time to be part of this game.
Joe Sulmar, Hotlynx’ founder, possesses 40 years of telecommunications experience as a team manager and product designer. His contributions span the eras of PSTN, VOIP, and WebRTC. He has overseen the development of advanced communications products employing each of these technologies.