Voipfone - The Future Of Communication

Blockchain Voipfone

dreamstime_xs_104207765The media is currently fascinated by the rise and fall and fall and fall and rise and rise and fall of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is, of course, the archetypal example of cryptocurrency – the new kid on the block (geddit?). In the winter of 2009 a single Bitcoin was worth zero but by January 2017 it had risen unsteadily to $968, and almost a year later it was worth $17,800. This is good news for my mate who was given a single Bitcoin a few years ago as a joke and now feverishly checks on it several times a day like a Tamagotchi. Sadly, its value at the time of writing is $10,642.

Bitcoin has been famously used by criminals as a way of laundering their swag anonymously but more legitimate uses are now appearing. Bitcoin does, in fact, leave an audit trail so the scammers are moving to the hundred or so other cryptocurrencies that have sprouted in the last few years. Lately too, there has been much discussion about whether Bitcoin is a currency or an investment – the finance industry leans very heavily towards investment, and a dodgy one at that, showing every indication of being a very fat bubble. I reckon you can measure a bubble by the amount of scammy spam arriving in your inbox about it and Bitcoin is now No 1 in mine.

The technology that cryptocurrencies rely on is called blockchain and its use in digital cash is only one of its many potential targets. The pundits tell us that blockchain is going to be bigger than dot com as it’s a generic way of secure, distributed record-keeping. ‘Secure’ seems to be a relative term in the cryptocurrency world. Just a couple of days ago the Japanese currency exchange, Coincheck, was subject to a modern-day heist when someone blagged 500 million cryptodollars from its virtual vaults. This caused Bitcoin to lose another 2.5%. But fear not, word from George Sorros – currently at Davos – is that while the cryptocurrencies are indeed bubbles they won’t crash to zero because they’re used by despots and dictators to make secret investments outside their host countries. Happy days.

What brought this to my notice was an item on Newsnight that made me laugh out loud.

Way, way back, almost pre-internet, I met a chap called Clem Chambers who had a tiny company in East London trying to sell an online multiplayer game called – I think – Air warrior. Somewhere along the line that company morphed from On-Line Entertainments Ltd into On-line Plc a financial trading company. Back before the dot com bubble burst anything with online and .com was worth zillions just by having the name and Clem was always into these things faster than anyone I knew.

Anywho, Newsnight had him on to explain why he’d recently changed his company’s name to On-Line Blockchain Plc. What he said in reply I don’t recall, but I do remember that the interviewer showed us a historical graph of his share price and called it ‘so flat you could hang your clothes off it.’ After the name change his share price increased by 400%. Nice one Clem, great to see you still in the game.

And so the gold rush has started and companies with blockchain in their name are increasing in value faster than Bitcoin itself. Voipfone will hereinafter be referred to as Blockchainfone.

Christmas and Telephony

Over Christmas I’ve been watching how the holidays affect telephone usage – yes, I know, but old habits etc. It’s probably just me but I find it fascinating to see how human behaviour is revealed so obviously in statistics that you wouldn’t think to look for it. No surprise to Google I guess.

Anyway, a few of years ago I did a blog post for a mate of mine over at www.trefor.net and thought I’d get out of writing a new blog whilst still a little bleary-eyed by reproducing a slightly updated version of it here.

This is a Time of Day telephony traffic graph – I’ve been looking at them for most of my working life. For a normal business day, they pretty much always look like this:


People generally get into the office and start making calls at about 9am, work steadily up to about midday, then about a third of them have a spot of lunch. They come back at 2pm and start calling again, then everything starts tailing off about 4pm as people start thinking of home – or beer, or both.

Telephone networks have to be built to cope with the traffic at the busiest hour of the day so since the very earliest days of telecommunications telephone companies have been trying to reduce the height of those peaks and spread the load more evenly across the 24 hour day. A call at a peak adds a cost but a call either side of a peak adds a profit.

As you can see, the network is doing practically nothing after 6pm which was the reason for the cheap tariffs after 6pm – to try to encourage calling after the afternoon busy hour.

Regardless of all sorts of societal and technological changes that graph has looked the same for generations; nothing changes it – except holidays and weekends.

This is a Saturday to the same scale:


A few people work Saturday morning, they don’t really bother about a break for lunch and it’s pretty much all over by 4pm.
It seems that most business people still honour the Lord’s day. Sunday:


Funny things happen just before Bank Holidays. This is Christmas Eve:


It’s a normal working day but has about half the busy peak of a normal working day. But let’s face it, those that do come into the office go missing at lunch time.

Christmas Day itself is a disaster:


And Boxing Day is pretty much the same (still a bank holiday, of course):


The day after Boxing Day is supposed to be a normal working day – except it isn’t. The green line in the graph below is a normal working morning – in fact it’s the trace of the same day the week before. The red is what actually happened.

Looks like two thirds of businesses didn’t bother, doesn’t it?


All things being equal there’s about 15% less traffic in December than November.

But the good news for business telcos is that after New Year’s Day January bounces right back. Everyone’s back at work, lots of good intentions and Christmas debts to pay off, no more holidays – telephony traffic is usually around 30% up on December.

Telephony – all human life is shown here.

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