IP Phone - Technology of Communication

There is a lot of buzz about VoIP Internet phone service. On the consumer side everyone is getting a lot of exposure to Vonage commercials as well as triple play offers from Cable Companies. From a technology standpoint, VoIP is now much more mature than in its nascent days when Internet telephony meant a scratchy voice conversation over two computers. Whereas VOIP Services has been used by Telcos to carry voice traffic over long portions of their networks for years, it is now positioned to become the standard technology used to carry voice traffic over the last mile from every consumer’s home. Increased broadband penetration and advances in VoIP technology make this possible, and now there is a long line of VoIP providers out there looking for a piece of the action. They range from giants like Verizon and Comcast to relatively small unknowns. For the first time in the history of telecommunications it is possible to be a telephony provider without the huge barriers of capital needed for switches and network operation centers (NOCS).) nor the regulatory barrier of being a Local Exchange Carrier. So will the industry be marked by many small nimble players? What is the likelihood of survival for small consumer VoIP service providers?

The Cable TV companies have a strong position in the telephony market. They already have a large embedded base of customers. They also have a local presence, with field installers regularly driving around neighborhoods and customer service locations in every town in which they have a franchise. Having the field installers is a major advantage since they can install VoIP service and also hook up inside wiring so the service experience is no different than before. Therefore a person doesn’t have to be the least bit technically inclined to adopt the service, thereby opening the market to the masses. The pure-plays like Vonage just can’t reach the mass market like this.

Cable companies also have huge brand awareness in their markets. What is also potentially important is that they are perceived as a utility company and people are used to getting phone service from this type of entity. There is a familiarity and comfort level of going to a utility company for phone service.

They also have tremendous strength in both billing and customer service. While some may hate the cable company because they have lengthy time windows for showing up for an installation, may show up late, and may keep you on hold at the call center, the Cable companies are in actuality very good at managing the complexities of their operations. For example, RCN entered some markets years ago as an alternate cable provider thinking they could leverage people’s dislike of the cable companies’ service record and do it better; instead they ended up realizing how very complex it is and ended up doing it worse. If a company wants to scale as a major VoIP provider, they will have to manage the complexities of billing and customer service. The cable companies have been down this road already.

Here is what could be the biggest factor to why the Cable companies will be most successful at VoIP and ruin the chances of other smaller entrants – They provide a broadband connection. Since this is required for VoIP, the incumbent provider has the first dibs on providing voice service. Also, since broadband connections have high margins and VoIP has low margins, broadband providers could treat voice service as a loss leader to get and keep customers on their high-speed connections. NetZero, for instance, is giving away free telephone numbers and low priced VoIP service presumably with the hopes of signing on users for their ISP. Voice service could in fact become so commoditized that it will be given away with broadband service the same way email is today. If this becomes a reality, there would be very little market opportunity and a bleak survival outlook for smaller pure-play VoIP service providers unless they could offer a differentiated value proposition.

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As technologies mature and more households gain access to high speed Internet, consumers will come to realize that it is simply more efficient and cost effective to send packets of voice over the Internet than over a point to point circuit switched land line. Long distance charges become a thing of the past, and international calls are pennies a minute if not free to some countries.

VoIP solutions are readily available to anyone with a high speed Internet connection, and the only hardware needed is an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and a phone. For most consumers, utilizing a calling plan from a VoIP service provider is the best solution. Most VoIP service providers will provide the ATA hardware (or software) for free, and monthly charges range from free on up.

Peer to Peer VoIP

The least expensive VoIP solution would be using a computer on a peer to peer network. Offered from such VoIP service providers as Skype or the Gizmo Project, the software is free to download and calls within the network are free worldwide. Calls to PSTN numbers are charged at a low VoIP rate. Peer to Peer VoIP is a software solution, meaning that no ATA is required, and your phone is a pair of earplugs and a microphone plugged into your computer. The downside is that call quality is lacking compared to some of the hardware VoIP solutions available.

The “Pure Play” VoIP Service Provider

Over the past few years, a new generation of upstarts has introduced themselves into the residential VoIP arena. Probably the most successful (at least popularity wise) would be the VoIP service provider Vonage. Thanks to their lavish spending on advertising, the technology of VoIP is becoming mainstream, and the general public is beginning to realize that if the circumstances are right, Voice over IP can be a viable cost saving alternative to the Plain Old Telephone System (POTS).

Vonage, Packet8, and SunRocket are just a few of many companies that are pure-play VoIP service providers. They have no interest in selling you cable TV, conventional telephone service, or cellular minutes. Monthly plans range anywhere from $7.00 to $40.00 and calls are free in the U.S., Canada, and in some cases Europe. International rates vary with many countries as low as 2-3 cents a minute.

These are the companies that have pioneered residential VoIP for the consumer and with their low monthly calling plans, the companies that will keep the giants in the Telecommunications Industry honest.

Telco’s as VoIP Providers

Just as deregulation and the advent of cellular technology in the past, VoIP is poised to revolutionize the Telecommunications Industry. And the large telephone companies, even the cellular phone companies are entering this new era kicking and screaming.

Telco’s like AT&T, the regional Bells and others are happy to provide broadband internet access through DSL, but very few are willing to unbundle the internet service from their conventional telephone services. They could do it technologically, and a few local phone companies are offering DSL on the “local loop”, without the wire with the dial tone. The fact is, having a broadband connection that requires you to also buy a conventional telephone connection pretty much defeats the purpose, thus making VoIP through DSL impractical for most people.

That said, the Telco’s see the writing on the wall and are slowly beginning to implement Voice over IP telephony. AT&T and Quest Communications offer residential VoIP solutions starting at $25.00 and $30.00 respectively, just slightly higher than a pure VoIP service provider. All of the basic features such as call forwarding, speed dialing, and 3-way calling are included, and premium services like virtual phone numbers, conference calling, and call filtering can be had for an additional charge. International rates seem to be somewhat higher than pure play rates, though only by pennies.

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In 1989 Alon Cohen and Lior Haramaty invented the first Voice over IP audio transceiver. When VoIP was still a new invention, the quality wasn’t high, so businesses didn’t take it seriously. Now everything has changed. VoIP made a real boom in the world of telecommunications and technology. It has gained huge popularity nowadays, and it is widely used by businesses. The main reason why businesses are so attracted to VoIP is its cost saving feature. Well, now you have a clear idea about VoIP system, so it’s time to refer to a guide, which can be your key to success for migrating your business to VoIP.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk

Technology industry is changing very rapidly, and nowadays traditional telephone systems can’t satisfy business needs any longer. That’s why, you can see what is happening in the business world right now, more and more businesses are migrating to VoIP with each passing day. It’s time for you to take a risk and make the decision of getting rid of your traditional telephone system. Yeah, it’s natural that you have doubts. But just think about all the new capabilities that come with VoIP and the broader umbrella of Unified Communications. This is a difficult decision to make, but your business will grow even more, as you will cut down a lot of costs. Not taking this risk in time and sticking with legacy telephony can have a negative impact on your business.

Analyze How VoIP Will Impact Particular Groups Within Your Company

As a rule there are three main stakeholder groups which will benefit from VoIP:

Employees – Since domestic VoIP calls generally do not incur long distance charges,employees will be less reluctant to make those calls this way. Two benefits come from this.
First, employees will communicate more regularly by voice, which is especially good for their dealings with customers. Email can be cheaper but nothing can’t be compared to a real-time voice conversation. Second, they will rely less on Web-based options for making voice calls.

Executives – They are not interested in the technology behind VoIP. The most important thing for them is how much money the business can save with VoIP. In fact,VoIP will deliver a number of savings right away and you can raise the business value of VoIP by showing executives how VoIP can make employees more productive. Another benefit is the way that VoIP can integrate with other communications modes for richer experiences that can help streamline business processes.

IT – The main benefit is network convergence, whereby voice traffic is ported from a dedicated network to the LAN. It is very expensive to maintain legacy environments, and having these parallel networks you’ll save a lot of money. So, IT can benefit from financial and operational aspects of VoIP. Another advantage is that VoIP features and updates can be self-provisioned by employees rather than being handled as help desk requests. From financial point of view, the costs associated with MACs – Moves, Adds and Changes can be significantly cut down.

Choose Deployment Model That Suits Your IT Environment Best

The following are the primary deployment models to choose from:

Premise-based – This is the most expensive model and requires dedicated IT resources. Of course, it is possible to deploy VoIP this way, but only if you have necessary financial means. Even if you have this, you may not want to, especially if you see a declining role for IT or are concerned that the new technology will be too complex to manage.

Cloud-based – This is the converse of premise-based, well in case of cloud-based model the main variants are managed or hosted. In either case, IT chooses to outsource some aspects of VoIP. This could be a financial decision, but also one based on expertise and priorities for how your available IT resources should be utilized. A hosted scenario involves having the VoIP service operated remotely from the operator’s data center, but the business still manages the local network environment.

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Voice over Internet Protocol providers Skype, and Vonage are just two of the many VoIP telecoms service providers which have, in the past, come under fire in the US, and elsewhere, for failing to connect emergency 911 calls.

It is quite natural for users to assume that VoIP based systems will provide emergency response services in much in the same way as is provided via cell phones and fixed line phones. Indeed, the suppliers of VoIP services want us to view their systems as equals to fixed lines, and indeed also, cell/mobile phone services.

Now, it is highly possible, in fact, that as the technology behind VoIP is further refined over the next few years it will become impossible for even technically aware users to know whether a particular phone system is either VoIP based, or a standard fixed line system. So, this being the case unless VoIP providers can get this service up and running there are going to be tragedies arising from users assuming that they have emergency service call coverage, when in reality they don’t have any 911 capability whatsoever.

Some tragedies have already occurred already from VoIP’s 911 shortcomings, in the emergency call area. It has been reported that one tragedy in particular has already needed legal defence from provider Edison, N. to deflect prosecution.

Stories about problems with the local emergency call capability of VoIP based cell phones, in use in current systems in place, have already been known to feature in the headlines of newspapers. Reports focus on the fact that individuals in emergencies are been picking up their VoIP phones unaware that no service is provided, and they waste much precious time before realizing that they will not be able to place the necessary emergency call.

As VoIP phones are on the Internet and nomadic, the location of the individual placing the 911 call can be very difficult to determine. VoIP and 911 issues are not easy for the VoIP providers to resolve either, as users often install their service on laptops and other mobile devise, from which there is no geolocation data available in the way this data is integral to cell phone systems.

The solution proposed is that all VoIP providers should be required to transmit all 911 calls, including a call-back number and the registered street address of the customer, to the appropriate emergency call enter or local emergency authority. These systems have reportedly been developed by some VoIP providers and are available. However, in many areas cases emergency service providers are not yet capable of receiving and/or processing the call-back number or street address information transmitted with VoIP 911 calls, and even where they have been implemented there a very big question mark over the adequacy of such a system.

For this reason, in this article we can only talk in general and we recommend that all existing and potential VoIP users ask detailed questions concerning VoIP 911 service provider requirements and regulations, in their location. You should visit the local telecoms regulator’s web site or similar local inspector’s website, and if necessary make enquiries to these bodies for clarification, and make your decision on how to act on this matter. It could be a matter of life and death to the users, for example, of an office VoIP system in the event of fire or entrapment.

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You have probably heard about VoIP technology, as there is a lot of “skype hype” out there and praises screamed from mountaintops about similar services. For those of you who do not already know, VoIP is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol or Voice Over Internet Provider)However, as it is with anything new, you probably have a lot of questions which you need answered before you make the decision of investing in VoIP, or even switching over completely from land line telephone services to VoIP.

Do you remember in the not so distant past when only some us had cell phones, and those of us that did just kept them in the glove compartments of our cars, and used them only sparingly? Remember how expensive they used to be? Now look at us! We can’t leave home without them, and can barely function in this day and age without even having one. Well, the same kind of development and sudden demand that existed in cell phones is now prevalent in the VoIP industry – in fact, in a few short years, VoIP may replace not only conventional land line phones, but cellular phones as well. VoIP services represent an excellent savings for your pocket, and the efficiency with which VoIP services operate are unmatched when compared to any other type of telephone services. This is why it is of utmost importance for you to understand all of the advantages to VoIP now, rather than later, and get in on this new technology while the price is still right.

The Advantages of VoIP over Conventional Land line Telephones

VoIP technology provides its users with a wealth of benefits. If you already have a computer with a broadband connection, a router, a microphone, and/or headset, then you are already set up and ready to go with VoIP – you’re only halfway there. Having all of this set up ahead of time will prove to provide you with additional savings, which you can use to put towards VoIP service, and add any extra features you may want to your desired service package.

Without further ado, here are some of the most popular advantages of VoIP services which have been shared with us in the past, and enjoyed by people just like you all over the world.

There is no need for a land line telephone anymore – While it is not absolutely necessary for you to pull out your conventional phone lines and throw them in the garbage, you will soon find them unnecessary, as VoIP will eliminate the need for any long distance services you will have. While these services are expensive and no longer necessary, you can save money by dropping long distance services from your land line telephones, or drop land line service altogether, as you will not have much more use for it while you are using VoIP. This benefit alone can cause you to become addicted to VoIP.

There Is No Limit To Your Communications – Generally, if you choose to have your VoIP services with one of the more well known companies, they will put you on a flat rate where you can have unlimited communications with whoever you want anywhere throughout the world. For example, if you have a business partner or friend in Germany, and you live in Pennsylvania, there is no need to keep looking for a cheaper way to do so. Most VoIP service providers will charge nothing extra for this service, and in the event that such fees may apply with a particular VoIP provider, the charge is minuscule as compared to conventional land line phones and cellular phones.