Friday, October 19, 2007

Telecommunication 2.0? (tips and tricks...)

Let me tell you what I am trying to do this past couple months...

Shall I say "telecommunication 2.0"? It's the technology or the service of combining existing voice communication systems and the Internet; such as web 2.0 applications.

If you say telephone 2.0, that may be VoIP, but VoIP itself doesn't really have much appeal. True, in many corporate infrastructures, IP phones are becoming standard. But for most consumers, this doesn't really matter; VoIP is just an infrastructure technology. For the tech savvy, Skype and the sort may be cool, but it's not convenient as existing phones. Carrier backbones may switch to VoIP, but that again really doesn't matter to the consumers. So then, what am I trying to do? Not saying that I like the term "telecommunication 2.0", let me explain what this is about.

Recently, it's very interesting to see a lot of Internet applications that work with the public telephone network. They work with your land line phone or mobile phone and adds convenient features. It's not a replacement, but a complement. And it seems to be more attractive and useful than closed VoIP services which probably comes with bells and whistles. Here are the things I am trying out right now.

  • GrandCentral - Lifetime permanent telephone number.
    Now owned by Google, this service provides you a free lifetime phone number. It comes with advanced voicemail and call forwarding feature manageable via a web 2.0 interface. Calls to a GrandCentral number can be received on any of your existing phones. (It can be, but doesn't have to be VoIP!)
  • Teleflip - Email over SMS. (Hey, I like this copy... This is mine!)
    They actually have two services.
    flipMail fetches your emails and then sends them to your mobile phone via SMS. As long as you have text messaging (SMS) capability, you don't need a fancy hi-tech mobile phone.
    flipOut is a simple email-to-SMS service. Just send an email to <phone_number> and it will be delivered via SMS. Plus, the recipient can reply back via SMS and return an email to the sender!
  • Pinger - Voice bulletin service.
    I really haven't tested out this service well yet. Basically what it does is that you record a voice message and then Pinger will send out a text message with a call back number. This text message can be sent to as many people as you want. The goal is, you just record once, and that voice message can be delivered to hundreds of people at the same time.

Probably there are more of these cool services. But I only brought up some that I thought were promising; plus, we don't want to over complicate here. Managing multiple services is not easy.

Just FYI, I don't have a land line and I'm using Gizmo and/or Skype for that purpose. This is another topic, but here, I consider them as land lines because all I need is a phone number. For mobile, I'm trying to make use of my iPhone but I'm not all happy with it yet. I've been contacting support of the service providers and sending them feedbacks and requests. We'll see how well they'll support the iPhone.

In the near future, I will post more details on each service and also discuss how it can well be used with an iPhone. And of course, your input is always welcome.

No comments: