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Is GoDaddy my next telephone company?

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

GODADDY-logoYears ago the CTO at a well known VoIP application software company where I worked kept calling me on my mobile. This despite the fact I was in the office and no more than 20 feet away from him. I finally asked him why he didn’t bother calling me on my lovely Polycom phone where we were spending programming man years adding “really cool features.” The reply, “because I have you programmed into my mobile handset.”  There was an answer there someplace for us all.

Governments and telephone companies around the world are spending huge cycles debating the future of telephone numbers. In the United States, telephone numbers are considered a ‘national resource’ and you don’t own your number, merely borrowing it. In Japan, it is nearly impossible for a non-resident to get a telephone number (Korea is similar as well).

The Internet folk mostly find this amusing. I have new telephone number for you. Ready, here it is

call_me_button or if that’s too long then or even (see note)

Yes, it’s an actual WebRTC demo that calls me (well not really, you’ll get my tablet camera looking out my office window).  It’s basic, but you get the point. Telephone numbers are largely irrelevant. I remember my home telephone number when I was 10, but I’m hard pressed to tell you my office number today. Too much red wine now limit my brain cells to holding relevant information (like remembering where I live).

Your smartphone has all sorts of fields data for your contacts and the ability for it to ‘dial’ by URL kinda of already exists today (at least on the iPhone).

Telephone numbers are great, they’re precise using a limited numeric set which is easy to type, but get one digit wrong and well it’s all wrong. Telephone numbers don’t incorporate even a basic checksum (like the Luhn algorithm). Imagine your smartphone telling you the number you entered isn’t a valid telephone number even before you dialed it! It should, it could, but it ain’t going to happen with the best of 1950’s technology.

URL’s are great if I’m clicking from a webpage or already in my address book, but they’re pretty hellish to type riding down the road and forget trying to use voice recognition. Thus numbers remain important for us limited skills humans.  So to make communications easier we need a way to move past 1950’s telephone numbers into newer realm of numbers for Internet communications. OMG why don’t we use IP addresses? OK I’m game, so call me now, my IP is

But wait, it’s tough to move or port an IP address. I also will have multiple devices, locations (and some would argue, multiple personalities) and thus ever changing IP addresses I may actually be at any given moment. Thus absolute IP addressing probably isn’t a good idea. As well since IP addresses were a product of the 1970’s (yes they’re that old) they don’t incorporate any type of checksum for us error prone humans.

Thus I raise the question. Do we need a  TLD specifically for communications and with mnemonics for human input? Years ago there was this notion of ENUM which translated a telephone number into an IP address (I’m simplifying here). If mostly died in a barrage of regulatory questioning about all sorts of theoretical conditions.

But maybe NO, I don’t any more help from the government (or my telephone company for that matter). Why don’t I simply buy the domain and be done, better add a Luhn check digit so I can pick any TLD I want and the domain companies could a simplified process of setting this up for all of us. Maybe the guy selling me the TLD offers me a basic WebRTC application.  Let me get even crazier – perhaps your next telephone company will be GoDaddy!

Note: I’d set up my office tablet with a great live view of Hong Kong harbor for you to test call. Unfortunately, it appears the tablet died while I’m out of the office. Forgive me, my tablet isn’t carrier grade (whatever that means).