It’s often said that examination of the past can lead to a better future. Though some may find this saying to be a bit hokey, reflecting on history can better prepare one to access and handle the future. So, being about half way through this year, it may be a good time to reflect on VoIP in 2012 to help us to better map out what the rest of the year may hold.

2012 saw a number of milestones for the VoIP industry that ranged industry record highs, new innovations, and much more. That being said, VoIP proved to really gain some steam in 2012, pulling in approximately $65 million by the end of the year. As a result of this record high, many forecasters have since announced their global projections of growth at around 6.46% through 2016. That being said, last year saw a number of truly impressive milestones, many of which are still relevant today. For example 2012 saw a big boost in mobile VoIP. Flash forward to the present, mobile VoIP has irrevocably altered the workplace. Now, as this year stretches towards the halfway mark, we’ve put together a list of some truly impressive innovations.

April 2012:

Deregulation of Telecommunications: Telecommunication services are regulated by a number of rules dictated by Congress, the FCC, the State and Public Utility Commissions (PUC), and state legislators. As such these regulations dictate providers’ behavior, retail pricing formation, quality of service standards, and more. From April 2010 up until April 2012, 21 state legislators enacted laws that limit regulation. Additionally, deregulation was pending in 14 other states. As the topic is still be debated, deregulation hit a stride in 2012. This comes as a result of the popularity of VoIP—i.e. telecommunications move away from landlines and towards broadband enabled services. As so, many turned to investigate the validity of traditional telecommunications regulations. While this debate is not over, it has at least fleshed out the question of how to work with both legislators and the industry to draft regulation that better reflects the changing industry.

June 2012:

Broadband Reaches Record Subscribers: According to UK Research firm, Point Topic, the number of global broadband users ascended to new heights—i.e. over 600 million subscriber—in the first quarter of 2012. Point Topic’s report goes on to state the number as an 11.5% growth from the previous year’s first quarter.

Rise of Mobile VoIP: 2012 saw the release of a number of different statistics and reports all pertaining to the growth of mobile VoIP through 2017. Smartphones have increased functionality; therefore, many of them are able to effectively run VoIP services. With an influx of VoIP apps available on all device platforms, users were able to experience more mobile VoIP services. As a result of this growth, many providers began to monetize the service; however, more often than not, cost was only attached to premium features, basic functionality remained free. Also, with an influx in available apps, users had a wide variety of options available to them.

July 2012:

UC Growth Experiences Projected Through 2016: Unified Communications and Collaboration services proved so popular throughout 2012 that their growth was projected to track $20.8 billion by the end of said year. As such, the report focuses on trends that may have affected growth. Additionally, the report also focused on key services including IM/presence, unified messaging, conferencing, and more.

Polycom Integrates Social Networks Under One HD Video App: Polycom introduced an industry first with their social media chat app. As such, Polycom’s application would work across multiple devices, combining users’ Facebook, GTalk, and Skype contacts.

October 2012:

Enterprises Adopt SIP: SIP Trunking had a big year in 2012 as many enterprises moved away from their legacy networks. With greater cost efficiency and a full host of features, SIP Trunking managed to boost its popularity substantially. Additionally, Unified Communications (UC) also has received a boost in popularity, and as a result it moved SIP Trunking forward.

November 2012:

RingCentral Announced Industry First Business SMS: In doing this, the provider released the first service enabling users to user their business phone number for calls and faxes as well as text messages. While text messaging for business was a common practice before this release, users had to use their own personal phone numbers. RingCentral’s Business SMS enabled texting via business numbers even on users’ personal mobile devices, text by department (as opposed to individuals’ numbers), send and receive texts via phone, tablets, and PCs, and text tracking along with voice and fax messages in one location.

December 2012:

SMB Demand Dictates Solutions: SMB, or Small to Mid Sized Business, proved to be one of the most in demand sectors of the VoIP market in 2012. As such, a number of providers began to roll out solutions that were custom fit for these types of customers—i.e. Vocalocity Desktop, Fonality HUD, RingCentral’s Call Controller, and more. All of these services work to equip SMBs with full VoIP features/functionality; however, they do so by catering to their specific needs. For example, SMBs typically have limited resources (i.e. time, space, money). As such, many hosted providers have been able to steer their solutions toward this market. Though the rise in SMB use may not sound “milestone” worthy, it most definitely is. SMB popularity has greatly affected how providers offer and roll out services moving forward in 2013.

UC’s Big Move to the Cloud: Throughout 2012, many vendors stepped forward in the UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) market. As such, Gartner, a technology research and advisory firm, wrote a report explaining the UC’s move to the cloud as being a part of an even larger movement. “Three developments have characterized the UCaaS market in 2012: the emergence of branded premise-based platforms supporting UCaaS, the maturity of certain UCaaS platforms, and the deployment of UCaaS on a limited scale by Fortune 1000 companies.” Simply put, with more support from vendors and new developments, UC has been able to move to the cloud.

Carrier VoIP Sees Turnaround: Following three years of annual decline, Infonetics’s, a telecom market research firm, Q4 report revealed VoIP and IMS equipment market was able to grow 9% over the previous year. Infonetics report goes on to detail that the inclusion of IMS into LTE-based wireless networks was able to boost the carrier VoIP growth.

As stated above, many milestones in 2012 have paved the way for industry changes in 2013. Though 2012 was marked by various developments, advances, innovations, etc. each of the above events has had an echoing effect in 2013. For example, SIP now looks primed to replace T1 lines in 2015, UCaaS solutions are growing increasingly popular, the FCC has been involved with various phone companies throughout the year, and more. 2012 proved to be a big year for VoIP; however, its most important milestone was how it set the stage for 2013 and the future at large.