Skip to main content


The ‘flattening’ of voice communications

Communications between shores is really flattening the world. I continue to be amazed at the advancements in technology. I was just in our China office and phone calls over our latest VoIP infrastructure upgrade were amazing!

I’ve experienced the progressions over the years and have come to have a sixth sense for evaluating voice quality and in particular latency in conversations. Using this rendition of the ‘force’ I really could ‘sense’ the improvements, especially around latency. While certainly a delay of less than 1/3 second doesn’t require a ’half-duplex carriage return’ (e.g. “Hey, how have you been? <OVER>” ;-),  our latest technical marvel seems to truly sound ‘right next door’ and the conversation flows even more easily.

Anyone who’s spoken over such vast differences will understand. Those that only speak domestically take it for granted – and I’m sure I’ll become jaded as well over time. I tend to be one of those people that hangs in front of the microwave remarking, “C’mon – what? Do you think I’ve got all ‘minute’?”

But immersed in a morning / evening call with my wife, it suddenly hit me. She’s over 9,300 miles away right now. Simply amazing for someone that still remembers rotary ‘princess’ phones and domestic ‘party lines’.

(side-note: if you generate directions in Google from Denver, CO to Hangzhou, China  – the travel time is actually over 36 days as one of the steps is kayaking across the Pacific – funny guys)

And hotel calling has certainly changed since my parents called me while on vacation in London and incurred about $12 bucks per minute – mostly thanks to services like Skype. Skype out charges for calling from China to the US? A little over two cents per minute – of course Skype to Skype is even cheaper, but does it matter anymore when you can talk for over three hours for the price of a Starbucks Grande Latte? Remember Sprint’s 10 cents / minute domestic LD rate years back? That’s price gouging by today’s standards 😉

And video calls are even more amazing to me. I remember my first domestic video call (over a dial up line at 28.8kbps) – what was it? Like 2 frames per second? I think I was pulling 8 fps in the office the last time I got to see my 2 year old off to bed. I marvel to think what he’ll compare that to in his adulthood – looking back on 8fps video calls half a world away the way we view a couple of cans and a really tight piece of twine.

So since I mentioned Google above, let me jump on my soap box for a bit. I think their talk / motions / decisions (whatever stage that’s in today) to pull out of China due to censorship disagreements is ill founded. Whatever your thoughts on acceptable degrees of censorship – the surest way to combat that is to let communications technology ‘marinate’. Because openness and information eventually seeps out the longer it’s there.  Human nature desires connectivity, and openness. It’s inevitable. But to ‘disconnect’ them is a step back. It doesn’t solve anything except to make an empty political statement – only heard by the people who remain connected – and believe it anyway.

There – that should spark some conversation 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kevin Sheen, Vice President, Global Delivery

Kevin is responsible for Perficient's Global Delivery strategy and execution with teams distributed across the globe in the US, India, China and Mexico. With a background rooted in software development, he has been an Agile evangelist and practitioner for over 20+ years and has been advocating Agile as a way to make global teams successful since Perficient launched it's first global delivery center over 13 years ago. Scrum Certifications: CSP, CSM, CSPO

More from this Author

Follow Us