Saturday, September 16, 2017

An email from 1995: Impact of VoIP and voice recognition?

I was going through some old photos and computer files this morning, and happened upon the following email. It's from sometime in 1995 (didn't preserve the headers) and was addressed to an op-ed or feature writer for the International Herald Tribune (then owned by the New York Times and Washington Post) who had written something about the Internet. My email to this person touched upon two then-emerging technologies, which didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but are now hugely important: 
I saw the article you wrote on the above in an issue of the International Herald Tribune. My question is this: Now that internet use is multiplying, and people are able to take advnatage of much cheaper LONG DISTANCE CALLS through a PC, a modem, and an internet provider, dont you think the phone companies are going to clamp down on this? I mean, five or ten years down the road people will be able to buy equipment, combo phone/modems with a chip inside that enables the general public to just dial across the world but only pay local rates plus a monthly internet fee. This will take a big chunk out of the phone companies business.

Can the phone cos start making providers pay for this, and pass on the cost to the consumer? Also, why havent they done this already? Who is actually paying for internet phone lines, and at what point will they say "enough is enough"?

One other question: VOICE RECOGNITION: what kind of impact do you see this technology having on the industry? What kind of timeframe? It seems like a major thing to me, but everyone I talk to, plus magazines, all mention two words: "science fiction" and then dismiss it as just that. True?
Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony thing quickly became a big thing, cutting down the cost of international phone calls and then leading to a host of new services (Skype, FaceTime, Google Voice, etc.). Domestic long-distance calls, which used to cost more than 30 cents per minute, are now free with most calling plans, and international calls which used to cost more than a dollar per minute to some countries, are now free or a few cents per minute at most. 

Voice recognition was slower to take off, but 2010 was widely used by automated support lines for banks and airlines. In the past 5 it has exploded, thanks to Siri, "OK Google" and Amazon Echo.

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