False Statement: “Phone Companies More Concerned About Standards Than Computer Vendors”

The computing and telephony worlds are gradually coming together. A common myth says that phone companies are much more concerned about standards than computer vendors. For example, telcos spend years defining standards in enormous detail and testing them before deploying them. On the other hand, computing firms are much happier to let them evolve informally. This is false:

  • There are all sorts of standards that the computing world cares about; for example, network protocols and connectors, standard APIs to operating system interfaces, floppy disk formats, and printer plugs.
  • Telephony has only standardized certain things. All sorts of important standards are missing, at least from the user perspective; for example, a standard number to access directory inquiries, standards for user voicemail interfaces, and a standard for sound quality.

The confusion arises because the world of computing is so much larger. From the computing standpoint, telephony is just one application among a huge number of applications. New applications are constantly evolving, and where appropriate, standards are constantly evolving. In contrast, the world of telephony evolves only very slowly, and in very limited ways. 

David Ferris

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