Monday, April 21, 2014

Telecommunications: Past, Present, and Future

The telecommunications industry doesn’t have a specific day in which it was founded, but it nonetheless has a long and rich history that has led us to where we are today with ubiquitous internet and fast mobile connections. All of it is a culmination of standards, protocols, and science, each of them working together in harmony to form the highly connected technology that we take for granted today. The beginnings of all of this were quite humble, starting with nothing more than a system where you could send Morse code through miles and miles of wire.

The Early Days

The idea of using electricity for communication came about very early on, around the year 1753. At the time the idea was deemed too impractical to implement, putting it on the backburner for many decades to come.

Further experiments wouldn’t be performed until the 1800’s, with the first electrostatic telegraph being invented by Francis Ronalds. It used individual wires for each letter of the alphabet, and was initially set up in his garden, able to transmit signals over eight miles. The use of Morse code through telegraph lines wouldn’t come until much later, around the year 1837.

Analog to Digital

Fast forward a number of years, and you’ll hear the familiar name of Alexander Graham Bell, the person who patented the telephone in 1876. Bell and Gardiner Greene Hubbard would later go on to found the Bell Telephone Company, which would later become the American Telephone & Telegraph, or AT&T. At the time, AT&T was the largest telecommunications company in existence.

From there, telecommunications really started to take off, especially when inventions like radio, television, and satellites came into play. In a relatively short period of time in history, we had invented the ability to transmit moving pictures and audio to a very wide area, and relay that signal across the world.

Perhaps the biggest and most significant invention was the Internet, which continues to change and revolutionize the way we communicate, work, and live our lives.

Mobile Technology

Today, besides the Internet, cell phones have dominated the telecommunications industry, accelerated by the invention of the iPhone in 2007, considered by many to be the start of the modern smartphone. Since then, the entire telephone industry was changed, and today the vast majority of young people are favoring mobile phones over traditional landlines. Increasingly, we’re communicating with each other without the use of wires—only electromagnetic waves invisible to our human eyes.

What’s in Store

As always, it’s difficult to predict the future if you want to be absolutely accurate about it. However, it doesn’t take a visionary to see that mobile devices and pervasive Internet connectivity are dramatically changing our lives. Currently it is the hope of current governments that even people in the most rural areas should have access to reasonably fast Internet. And increasingly, this is becoming more of a necessity as things like job applications start to move entirely online.

Eventually, it wouldn’t be that strange to see pervasive connectivity take over our lives to the point where it comes the norm—where we don’t even notice that we’re using this technology because it has become so seamless and transparent.

The Importance of Prepaid Phone Cards

Prepaid phone cards have been around for quite some time, and have always been used as a way to make long-distance or international calls at very low rates. Their main use comes from when a customer has no desire to pay every month for calls that they make only every so often. These prepaid phone cards will often let one call globally at rates that are much more affordable than standard monthly plans that include international calling.

Essentially, they were very important in filling that niche where you might have relatives, friends, and/or pen pals that live far across the U.S., or even overseas in a completely different country.

Pay Less

As mentioned, prepaid phone cards will very often offer rates that are significantly lower than what you would pay extra for a monthly calling plan. These rates can go as low as 0.8 cents a minute. That’s a fraction of one cent. More typically, these rates will hover around 1 or 2 cents per minute.

With a regular monthly plan, you would be paying as much as $10 extra on top of the rest of your phone bill. For some people this extra cost isn’t that big of a deal, but for those who like to be efficient with their money and don’t like to pay for what they don’t use, prepaid phone cards are the way to go.


A really nice thing about prepaid phone cards is that they are incredibly convenient to find and use. You can most likely find them in nearly any retail store, especially ones that carry electronics. You can also usually purchase the equivalent service online, where it goes straight to your phone account.

Usually, prepaid phone cards will be listed for a specific carrier, such as AT&T, Skype, Verizon, T-Mobile, and so on. Just be sure to buy the one that matches your carrier.


Since prepaid phone cards only offer a specific amount of minutes to a certain country (or to a number of different countries), you have the ability to only pay for what you use. This adds an element of versatility that isn’t offered in regular monthly plans.

This is also another reason that prepaid phone cards are important; they give the consumer a choice. Many people don’t even know that they have the option of using prepaid phone cards, and end up paying extra every month.

Other Thoughts

If a little extra every month isn’t much of a concern for you, then prepaid phone cards may not be of much use. But if you care a great deal about saving money, they’re absolutely fantastic for that purpose.

You only need to look out for cards that have misleading advertising on them. Make sure that you don’t run into any hidden fees by reading and understanding the fine print; sometimes it isn’t enough just to read the low rate in big, bold lettering. In any case, phone cards from reputable and major carriers tend to be the most trustworthy, so as long as you stay with those, you should be fine.