20th Anniversary

Its challenging at best to squeeze in 20 years of history be it a magazine or an industry into a few pages. So, in marking the 20th anniversary of PHONE+, well just hit the highlights with a look at the magazine, industry leaders, companies, associations and policies then and now. Then, of course, is 1987 the toddlerhood, so to speak, of the competitive telecommunications industry. So much of what we breathe and sleep as communications industry professionals today was still the stuff of science fiction or in the R&D labs of universities, electronics firms and, as it turns out, garages of technonerds.

We spoke with many people, logged many hours pouring over past issues and became blearyeyed Googling the net looking for ways to compare the past and the present. (Googling. You all know what it means, but in 1987, it was not in the vernacular and wouldnt be until 1998. But, I digress.) In those very much appreciated conversations, everyone was similarly flummoxed about how to answer the question about whats changed. It was not for lack of an answer, but where to begin. The wide-eyed expressions of wonder were common. I like the way Sherm Henderson, CEO of Lightyear Communications, put it: In 1987, I never dreamed of wireless devices, quad-play services, BPL, e-commerce, [insert your favorite technology here]. Yet, like a dream, our world has been transformed in about the same time it takes a baby to grow to an adult.

In turning 20, PHONE+ enters a new phase. I dont know if its fair to call it adulthood, but there is a certain maturity about it. At 20, most people are in college. That analogy works for me. PHONE+ has a future in mind, but it reserves the right to change its major.

You laugh, but PHONE+ has changed its focus many times to meet the evolving needs of a competitive marketplace. Its editorial philosophy, spelled out on its first cover (see Page 36) was this: Quietly, subtly, an industry has been created. And out of that industry comes a unique language, with a new set of symbols and a better way to communicate. Interconnect. Operator Services. Pay Phone technology, and much more. Brought together here. For the first time. Public Communications: a language ready to be spoken.

Ignoring the liberties with the language and the writers apparent poetic yearnings, there is little that reminds us of PHONE+ today. None of these market segments form the basis of todays coverage, but providing a forum for newly created industry is a calling that remains.

Some time in the mid-90s, PHONE+ really found itself. It wasnt about the technology so much anymore, but about the distribution of that technology. It was about the indirect channel, the reseller channel, the wholesale channel. For the reader it was about how to source product to deliver a total solution. For the advertiser it was about finding the ideal channel through which to deliver its products and services. Its here that PHONE+ has found a home. It continues to invite new members into its family as technologies converge voice and data or wireless and wireline and once-separate channels lose their distinctions. I expect this will continue and in 10 years, PHONE+ will be covering technologies that make us shake our heads and say, I never dreamed

Timeline 1987 – 1996

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Timeline 1997 – 2006

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Timeline 1987 – 1991

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Timeline 1992 – 1996

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Timeline 1997 – 2001

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Timeline 2002 – 2006

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