1995 – IP telephony for the masses…?


Article originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995

The internet as Ma Bell

The claim in the above article is that by building Modems and microphones into the computers, the phone-market will be revolutionized right now, in 1995.... Well, guess not.

So why did we have to wait until 2005 and Skype to get some disruption going? Well, a headset and a modem are just the first building-blocks - Skype got the most important thing in consumer IP telephony right: By using peer-2-peer traffic, their call-quality actually increased as their userbase grew, as opposed to the hundreds of previous competitors. Until Skype, a (paid) ip-telephony service would end up delivering a decrease in quality as their userbase grew, when desperately trying to handle the traffic through central locations. Using peer-to-peer technology, Skype could be free, a price that’s hard to beat, and base a sound business on added-value services.

Comment (1)

Net2Phone was *very* popular in the late 1990s -think 98 to 2002-.

It also allowed PC-to-PC calls, and still does.


Then came the SIP standard, which *really* made IP telephony ubiquitous. The way I see it, the "quality of calls" issue wasn´t it... Skype just "went viral", and when it reached critical mass, everyone started signing up with Skype regardless of other older programs.

Integrating text chat was a good move by Skype... but nothing that can t also be done using open protocols like SIP and Jabber...


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