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January 29, 2016

Twenty Years Later, the Lost / Next Generation

The telecom industry equivalent to “New and Improved” is “Next Generation.” However, often the terms associated with the next generation of technology shows that a generation will be lost, with paradigms that no longer apply.

Recently we entertained some thirty-year-olds by sounding like we lived in the age of dinosaurs.

We talked about payphones and what the carriers called “coin.” We talked about LATA’s and the LERG (Local Exchange Routing Guide), ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network [D channels]) and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode). Then we talked about the Cap’n Crunch whistle (which early phone hackers used to make free long-distance calls), and Signaling System 7 (SS7) used in a digital signaling network.

The funny thing is that back in 1996 we had a lot of money invested in supporting all those terms stated above. Back then you would have thought that as an industry we were going to have these terms and what they represented for at least the next generation. And yet here we are with the next generation listening to us like we have been living in the days of Edison and Henry Ford.

Worse yet, all these things that were supposed to transform the world basically did little to change the industry. We can make a case that some residual impact exists, but by and large we probably would have developed the technology within the framework of TCP/IP.

Regardless, the point of this article is to ask the question, “What terms are doomed to be short-term today?” Does VoLTE mean anything to the next generation? Is the concept of a landline going to be a faint recollection, like a buggy whip?

On the data side, all these new ‘aaS’ (as a Service) distinctions rarely make the connection to the general public, so I am sure that most of these are doomed to be a lost-generation term.

Then we use terms like SDN, which now represents a whole different technology.

The bottom line is that acronyms are like a Gold Rush. Keeping up with the trends means you have the chance to buy “Fools Gold.” However, if you can figure out how to sell the shovels, you’d be in good shape.

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