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May 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 5
Ask the Mobile VoIP Expert

History of VoIP Revised

Winston Churchill once said that “history is written by the victors”. However, history is what it is…

I was caught off guard the other day while participating on the Iodum “Squawk Box” (note: Squawk Box can be joined through FaceBook’s “Free Conference”). Earlier last month my friend Jeff Pulver was a guest, and I noted his mention of the VocalTec (News - Alert) origination of VoIP, first announced at the 1995 Supercom show in Atlanta. Well, to my recollection, VoIP came on the scene much earlier.

VoIP actually evolved from a technology called “Digital Signal Processing” or “DSP” which provided the basis for Speech Coding. This technology had a profound impact on the original creation of ARPANET, the original predecessor of today’s Internet. The first actual demonstration of VoIP was accomplished on ARPANET in 1974 and impacted how the Internet Protocol (“IP”) emerged. (See The 1974 Origins of VoIP by R.M. Gray ISSN: 1053-588.)

I also recall a small group from Motorola (News - Alert) that openly demonstrated VoIP gateway-to-gateway at an emerging technology booth along the back wall of Supercom 1994, a full year prior to the “splash” made by VocalTec in 1995.

I mention this evolution, because as we grow into a Mobile VoIP environment, the same technology that helped shape IP is beginning to influence the formation of new wireless standards and technologies. For those interested, Javvin keeps a series of posters current with the latest maps of WLAN and Network protocols and technology ( Of specific interest is the fact that many of these technologies have emerged from within the Satellite industry and I look toward some of the early industry leaders like Loral Space Systems, Hughes, and others for the experience and technology that should lead to the best choices in our wireless future.

Today I’m here in Las Vegas at the CTIA (News - Alert), where operational demonstrations of WiMAX and other wireless broadband technologies abound — high-speed mobile video and telemetry systems are all around me. Interestingly, public standards that made WiFi (News - Alert) commercially practical have been replaced with proprietary wireless protocols only available for “Licensed Spectrum”. Thus, pushing out the “last mile” of devices that are portable across different carrier infrastructures may still be years away.

In closing, I challenge you to dig into your past and collect some of the remnants of innovation that we are all so fond of, then send me a short note. Perhaps we can build a list or perhaps just a topic for future “Squawk Box” discussions. IT

Mark Hewitt is Chief Strategic Officer of i2Telecom (News - Alert) International, Inc. (

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