A hosted VoIP system is the go-to communications solution for many types of enterprises. For some organizations, the value proposition is all about the calling experience and the baked-in PBX features. For others fields of industry, such as Air Traffic Control (ATC) which is integrally aligned with the airline business, the infrastructure, cost savings, and interoperability are the winning factors.
VoIP Mandates for the ATC
In fact, the US Federal Aviation Administration and the ATC are mandating VoIP interoperability. This move is predicated on requirements to reduce telecommunications’ budgets, while improving engagement among the air traffic controllers around the world who support air traffic safety.
Such mandates make sense when you consider that air traffic controllers need to communicate with one another under a wide range of critical emergency conditions.
Major Airports Transitioning to VoIP
Major airports worldwide are moving to IP-based networks as well. Just like the other business sectors, airports want to lower their communication costs. The transition will take some time since many airports still rely on aging analog communications circuits with plain old telephone systems (POT) to enable mission-critical communications via airport traffic control towers.
Moving to VoIP gives airports access to the latest technology to replace the legacy aging telephone equipment with younger labor teams who are more familiar with current versus outdated devices.
The FAA is starting to deal with obsolescence issues,
Jon Shedden, NATCA’s (National Air Traffic Controllers Association) representative, told Avionics Magazine.
For example, they’re unable to buy the parts required to support certain parts of that legacy technology. Existing voice switches in are more than 20 years old. The biggest benefits it will provide for controllers are we’re no longer relying on those direct connections. The legacy connection that voice switches are connected to today, the only way I can call facilities outside, I can ring their position in a traditional way, I dial their number and their position physically rings. That’s still based on old legacy technology. When we connect using VOIP I can now override or instantly be connected to any other NVS position in the NAS instantly. I can instantly be talking to that controller.
VoIP Airline Call Centers
Adopting voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology can deliver the functionality to power a virtual call center, as evidenced in the airline industry. The advantages are numerous as there are less hard costs outlay for equipment, and the labor force no longer has be housed in a oversized physical call center.
Since its inception in 1999, JetBlue has been ahead of the curve versus many of its older airline competitors when it comes to integrating VoIP technology. The trendy airline has been taking reservations by VoIP for a while, allowing their reservations agents to telecommute by working from the comfort of their own homes to expedite the reservation process.
Onboard WiFi Enables VoIP Calls On Flights
In January, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is still considering a proposal that would require airlines to notify passengers about the use of mobile wireless devices to make telephone calls and to send messages while in the air.
However it’s important to note that voice calls doesn’t mean that you may take your cellphone out of airplane mode and connect to your nearest tower. Apart from the fact that it’s unlikely you would find a tower in range, this use of cellphones is presently illegal. What is possible is the use of onboard Wi-Fi to make voice calls over the Internet (VoIP).
For those who would prefer not to have their seat-mates talking on their phones in transit, airlines are now providing separate seating accommodations for those who use their phones during flights, as well as others who maintain restrictions that you can use your phones only to email, text, or listen to conference calls.
VoIP is inevitably going to benefit the airline industry in ways outdated communications couldn’t compare. Convergence of voice and data into a common infrastructure for wiring, routers, network connectivity and others are only going to improve over time and continue to enhance telephony capabilities across industries and organizations. Airlines, Airports and Air Traffic Controllers are no exception. With the ability to deploy, manage and maintain one network to serve all their communications needs using VoIP technology, organizations are upgrading infrastructure, improving interoperability, and significantly reducing costs.
Ron is a blogger at Telzio, covering business, technology, and mobile trends. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.