Social Networks as a Remedy for VOIP

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-02-29 Print this article Print

He said he and his staff at, which relaunched last summer to tackle this issue, are still puzzling over the problem. They are trying to create some sort of telco linking technology to make the addressing disappear, similar to the way the IP addresses are glazed over by the hyperlinks.

This would create some efficiencies. In the Web world, people can change the IP address that underpins a URL and keep the same URL because the URL serves as an abstraction layer. But if they want to change a phone number, somebody has to climb a telephone pole and do some rewiring.

Berninger said social networks could be the linchpin to ushering in hypercommunications. Implicit in social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace is contact information.

The contact info on these networks tends to be hidden, but that doesn't prevent people from connecting with one another through the social network's walled e-mail. People e-mail each other all of the time, but don't use an e-mail address. They just select a friend and click to send them a message.

Why not add click-to-call capabilities behind those walled gardens so that people could call each other from the computer to any device, such as a smart phone, laptop or PC?

"We put up with all these things on the telecom side, like the address book," Berninger said. "All day long, I've got to find a dang phone number. There's no clicking. We don't put up with that on the Web side."

Mike Spencer, founder and owner of network consulting firm i2 Partners, thinks Berninger could be right. Facebook has discovered how to relate to people that is not predominantly based on the address of any medium or device but is based on the networks of people, Spencer told eWEEK.

"If it is so attractive to consumers to do text communications or file sharing within a social network, then isn't it equally appealing to them to initiate their voice and video and other real-time communications in the same environment?" he said.

This is some food for thought as VOIP and unified communications vendors move forward in 2008.

Clint Boulton here. Will social networks become the de facto phone network for us in a year or two?


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