Is VoIP the way forward?

Is VoIP the way forward?

Summary: Instead of writing about something in the world or sparking controversy, I thought I'd open this one up as a simple, easy rolling discussion.With all the technology we hold today; unified communications, interoperability amongst technologies, protocols spreading and sharing rules, an ever expanding phone and networked systems - are we really heading towards a VoIP only world?

SHARE:

Instead of writing about something in the world or sparking controversy, I thought I'd open this one up as a simple, easy rolling discussion.

phonenetworks.pngWith all the technology we hold today; unified communications, interoperability amongst technologies, protocols spreading and sharing rules, an ever expanding phone and networked systems - are we really heading towards a VoIP only world?

Take one example. When the World Trade Centre came down, so did many of the telephone networks transmitters; also with that, the panic effect made everybody want to ring each other, saturating the phone networks. This is something that we (at my 'ordinary day job') call the "9/11 effect". When (justified) mass panic ensues, everybody tries to call everybody else and brings the phone network to a standstill - because the phone network is like a motorway/highway. There's a finite amount of space and if too many people use it, it becomes slow and eventually stops.

VoIP in theory is the same except can be easily increased. With a physical phone network, you have to add more exchanges, add more physical technology, expand the phone lines, add more transmitters - it's a costly and lengthy process. With VoIP, bang in a few more routers, some cables, another server, and that'll usually do it. VoIP seems to be generally less costly, and expanding the VoIP network is probably a lot easier than the physical phone lines.

Considering we all talk to each other every day, having a scalable and expandable phone system to keep in touch is essential for modern day culture. However, VoIP isn't perfect. The backend architecture can take a while to perfect, you rely on having an Internet connection, and it's essentially Skype on your phone.

VoIP would mean better integration with web services we already have - Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk and Skype for communication, but also it'd allow us to dial landlines and mobiles/cell phones without any major complicating devices in between. However, I have thought of a potential problem.

Already with on-demand television, the video web and the mass of data already flowing around the Internet, could a total unified VoIP network replacing any copper landlines we have now slowly cripple the web? Although I can't find the link to the page anywhere, the mass influx of people downloading Vista Beta 2/RC1 nearly brought down the Web, because so many people were downloading, it slowed the entire worldwide network down for days.

Is VoIP that important? Do we need to evolve our communications network for the near-future and beyond? What good/bad could come out of it? Is VoIP currently an essential business tool or a useful gimmick for the poor student?

No bitchy comments, no hostilities please. What do you think? What do you want? Talkback.

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Telcos, Unified Comms

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

17 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • VOIP Works Well For Me

    I disconnected at the street telco box for a coupla yrs now.
    The Shaw cable signal here in Calgary is reliable. I have an APC UPS unit to carry me thro' a brown/blackout. I'm paying for cable anyway to give me high speed internet. Why not value added by piggybacking?
    The only difference in performance with my cordless phones is the slashed price compared to landline telcos, with more features than I can use.
    Yes, I had an extra capital investment initially of the gateway modem and the UPS to equal the reliability of a landline during a blackout. But the price difference is great enough to justify my investment in infrastructure, as it is amortized over a period of time. Then my savings are truly free and clear.
    All in all, I happy with Primus VOIP here in Alberta.
    PreachJohn
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    I have had Vonage for my small business for 5 years. Love it! Few problems and a lot more flexibility and features.

    Martin
    martoonman
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    In a simple answer, Yes. However here in the US the broadband providers are trying to "cap" data usage which will slowly try to stall these features from truely taking off - as well as the lack of good network management. For example, I have Comcast, and while for the most part I rarely experience any fluxation on the quality of my VoIP rollout (its 98% of the time toll quality or greater) but with Comcast rolling out its data "meter" plan (yes VoIP doesnt use much via 1 channel but figure in multiple lines/calls) you really start to stack up data usage.

    So for the most part the "average" consumer who doesnt need 99.999% uptime on their home phones this will be the wave of the future, but for the "specialized" needs like home security systems and directv (currently) - a dedicated line will still be around for a while - though I would like to see these devices communiate directly over the internet.
    JT82
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    "maybe". I use a VoIP system at home in addition to Skype and both have times when lag, service disconnects and bad sound quality make it unusable. For serious customer calls, I still use the cell phone. Add in the unreliability on my frequent power outages and the lack of 911, I'd say, VoIP is a great idea that simply has not come far enough
    Splatus
  • VoIP in an Emergency

    Last month's 5.4 earthquake near Los Angeles was quite revealing from a communications point of view. Keep in mind that in any event of this sort in California, 30% of the surviving land lines are immediately set aside for emergency services. The cell phone networks dropped completely for around an hour; land lines were jammed up so that there was no way to even start a call. Yet, the VoIP phone services worked like a charm. Granted, there are not near as many VoIP customers as there are for cell or land lines, but as long as you have power to your broadband modem, it definitely shines during an emergency.
    kg6ygs@...
    • Re: VoIP in an Emergency

      The PSTN (public switched telephone network) like the internet is engineered for some predetermined capacity. As many of us who live in California have learned, this value is exceeded after a major event such as an earthquake and presto, calls go no where. At the moment, there are not that many individuals using VOIP so is most everyone tries to connect at one time, it most likely be a problem. However, in the future as there is more use of the internet, congestion is going to start happening. The internet was designed for ?best effort? deliver packets get delayed or lost. While data protocols are designed for this, data usually gets to the intended recipient, maybe delayed, but it gets there. Voice on the other hand does not tolerate delays very well, and packet loss even less well. The resultant voice can sound like Donald Duck with his head in a bucket of water. Now what happens when we have that 7+ earthquake, I thing that the VOIP connections will suffer almost as bad at the old fashion PSTN
      bill94087
  • Only if we move forward in the office...

    Fax machines. Yeah, that little unit no one thinks about, still runs on technology from 40+ years ago. Yes, it probably supports 33.6Kbs Super G3 technology, but it is still based on 40+ year old tech. And while you can often send a fax with it via VoIP, it doesn't work as efficiently or quickly. While the rest of the world sends ifaxes (internet fax) which are similar to emails, we still cling to the old tech in the office.
    hawkeyeaz1
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    Right now "land lines" are more secure than cordless and cell phones. Where does VoIP stand on security? I am sure there are other areas where VoIP falls short or it would already have taken over just because of pure supply and demand/competition factors.
    replogle@...
  • ISP reliability

    VOIP is not the way forward if one cannot get reliable ISP service. I have from 1-3 disconnections each day with my ADSL service from a big-name provider.

    When I am doing a large download or upload, the audio quality is generally not usable.
    Uncle Caleb
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    In the long run, VoIP yes. Btw, 9/11 caused saturation but did not grind to a halt; people assume this when they can't get through.
    muzza2005
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    Yes, but with exceptions. I have VoIP at home and am
    very satisfied, except that my cable broadband is not
    very reliable (DSL is not available yet). Once
    technology finds a way to make broadband as reliable
    as the phone networks we will be looking at moving
    forward.
    A hospital in New Orleans has been using VoIP virtual
    phones on tablet PCs for their roaming technicians for
    3-4 years. Took time to work out the bugs, but was
    getting better the last time I was there.
    djdurand@...
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    Very good joke this one ???people downloading Vista Beta
    2/RC1 nearly brought down the Web, because so many
    people were downloading, it slowed the entire
    worldwide network down for days.??? Tell another one : )
    Gives us a break pal : )
    jlmuzzio
  • Careful about VoIP !

    VoIP is 100% insecure, so be careful when you use it.

    Zfone (cryptographed VoIP) is an alternative for it:
    http://zfoneproject.com
    Gradius2
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    Standarsd cable wired systems should never disapper Voip
    should only be considered as another source vs being a
    replacement
    MichaelP2008
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    I have had Vonage for going on three years now and I have not had any problems that weren't solved with one phone call to an english speaking/understanding technician who walked me through the problem and left be satisfied with the result. Also, I have only had to call a maximum of three times during the period I have had the phone. $24.95 a month; all the long distance I can possibly call and great backup, who could ask for more?
    cvsa@...
  • Another VOIP experience...

    I live in a rural area south of Fort Worth, Texas. I have no access to FIOS, Cable, or DSL service. I use a WiFi ISP instead, getting my signal from a tower approximately 2.5 miles. My cell phone service is OK, but does drop calls more often than I'd like. I was using traditional service from AT&T at over $70 per month for a single line (unlimited long distance, unlisted phone number). About three months ago, I made the switch to Vonage and will never look back again. With Vonage, I have a line for voice service plus a line for fax service, costing me about $42 per month. The call quality is better than that of my AT&T service, and I have yet to have any problems with fax sending or receiving. One of the nice features of the Vonage service is the Network Availability feature. With this feature, should my internet connection go down, calls are automatically re-routed to another number that I designate, a cell phone my case. Earlier this week, my employer's main toll free numbers, on AT&T service, went down for over 24 hours. When dialing these numbers, all you would hear is "Your call cannot be connected at this time". If these numbers were on a VOIP service with something like Vonage's Network Availability, these case could have been re-routed to our answering service's backdoor number.

    The moral of the story is that VOIP offers greater flexibility than old legacy telephone systems.
    rc76058@...
  • RE: Is VoIP the way forward?

    In the fast changing world technology no doubt is taking a leading role.Day by day it is enhancing our capabilities in terms of anything.Communication is a very big such issue.Voice over internet protocol is taking the shape well.I have just gone through its services.

    You can enjoy Vyke's cheap international phone calls using PC-to-Phone, WIFI enabled mobile phones, SIP devices or Callback. Get a free dollar when you sign up for free, and there is no hidden charges or extra
    cost, just pay-as-you-go calling and sms. Check it out on
    https://www.vyke.com/

    4 US cent per call connection charge to free landline destinations with Vyke PC-to-Phone, Mobile VoIP and VoIP Phone. Check out the cheap rates to all other destinations on https://www.vyke.com/rates.jsf

    Lets see what's next the technology have for us?May be many more to still come and will continue to come.

    Regards.
    sayhi2shefali