Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 9/12/2003And talking about BT and broadband: a quick quiz. Which company said that voice over IP would never be a commercial reality because the quality was too bad, it was too unreliable, the ordinary phone system would always be superior and people could never be bothered to cope with the technicalities?

Tuesday 9/12/2003
And talking about BT and broadband: a quick quiz. Which company said that voice over IP would never be a commercial reality because the quality was too bad, it was too unreliable, the ordinary phone system would always be superior and people could never be bothered to cope with the technicalities? Yeah, you got it. Now, of course, BT's spotted that if it gives away a voice-over-IP telephone adaptor and signs people up it can sell telephone services over rival cable co's broadband connections. As if by magic -- whammo! Say goodbye to technical problems! Say hello to 'free weekend and evening calls' -- up to an hour in length -- and cheap (by BT's terms) international calls. To seventeen different countries!

You also get to say goodbye to 999 calls, directory enquiries, fax numbers and premium rate numbers, none of which will be connected by the service. You also can't dial ISPs, which makes sense, except why then have the hour limit on free phone calls?

So, a bit of a dog's breakfast -- and why you need an adaptor when other services run either via an adaptor or a piece of software on your PC isn't clear. You can't junk your existing voiceline, because you don't want to lose the ability to call 999, unless you've already got a mobile phone. Then the chances are you've already got a deal where weekend and evening calls are substantially discounted anyway -- so why pay £7.50 a month for yet another number?  BT can't easily add 999 services, as the regulations state that you have to be able to make them during a power cut, and until we all get giant UPSs running our home computers, routers, monitors and broadband modems that ain't going to happen.

Why do people want voice over IP? Because you don't pay by the minute, and the old nonsense about peak rate, standard rate and cheap rate calls don't apply (why should they?). Has BT missed the point altogether? Ho yus.