Wednesday, June 27, 2007

VoIP doesn't cost you anything

You need broadband Internet connections for VoIP telephony. For Cable Internet it's about $50, whether you want their bundled digital telephone (non-VoIP) or not. For DSL it's $20 for a decent speed Internet connection, but you have to pay $30 for the phone. So it's roughly $50 whatever you want. However, basic cable is a lot faster than basic DSL, reflecting the stated prices of $40 to $20.

Why would you want VoIP? For cable phone for example, the caller ID feature cost you extra $6, a few dollar monthly fees for long distance and international calls if you want economical calls, and of course the high call charge as compared to, well, Skype, which is almost free. So it's worthwhile to get VoIP for $10 with all the call features you can think of (except voicemail $3), including a 2nd phone number (same line). The basic $10 package includes some 200 minutes local and anywhere calls. Additional calls are comparable to Skype Out, an order of magnitude compared to conventional call rates.

So even for low volume users, VoIP cost you nothing to saving you a lot of money. For high volume, it's a must have, since traditional carriers like AT&T offers VoIP to business users. Skype doesn't do it for me. VoIP is one telephone number for everything. For Skype you need an ID for free PC to PC calls. You pay to call a traditional phone number (Skype Out), and it cost you to keep a Skype In phone number for grandma to call you. The critical deficiency for Skype is that it's a P2P technology, relying your PC to do all the work. Your PC not only process the voice, but routing other's calls as well. You must have an always on PC to replace the landline, or a standalone Skype phone will not be cheap. Skype do not have 911 support.

Is VoIP E911 reliable? You need your cable/DSL modem and router working, DC adapters for them working, and have electricity. Although modems and routers look like toys nowadays with cheap plastic casings, they seem to work forever 24/7. I think I can trust my life on them if I need 911. Think about it, how many cordless phone users have a wired phone connected for backup? I don't think cordless phones are any more reliable than modems and routers. I have a wired phone, but not really for backup, but use it as a telephone ringer for the spare phone socket. Also, it's just as easy to cut your telephone line as your electricity. The chance of noticing that your electricity is gone is a lot higher, when you are watching TV for example. And there are emergency systems that turn backup lights on when electricity is off. There's also the cell phone that everybody have that cannot be cut that way. Indeed there are alarm systems that make use of cellular systems rather than landlines.

As for equipment cost, again it cost you nothing to save you a lot. If you wait for promotions, the adapter allowing you to use your old phones bundles free. You can also use all of your existing phone sockets too, if you must. So if the VoIP company goes out of business (some may), you will not lost anything. Even better, you may get a free cordless phone that will not fight with WiFi. As for me, I refused to pay the overly expensive cordless phones nowadays, which drove me to discover my VoIP provider - Sunrocket. My cordless VoIP phone cost $40, which is about the price in the rest of the world, and the price I am willing to pay, after using the cordless VoIP phones in the rest of the world for a while, especially in the Far East. Mine is slightly not as slack and not as feature rich as those in the Far East, but well, they all think Americans should pay more for everything.

The voice quality of VoIP depends, but certainly between traditional landline and cell phones. If you talk a little, it doesn't make any difference to you. If you talk a lot, the amount of money saved will make you forget about the difference if any. Skype to Skype calls can be better than landline I would think. It's a big plus skipping over the telephone network, which has been evolving over many years but has to work with many old phones and systems. Skype voice processing can be an overkill because it has the PC to do all the work. One of the problems I have is international VoIP to VoIP calls. Sometimes it work perfectly, sometimes not at all, sometimes with clear echoes. But I think it's a temporary problem, otherwise no business will use it.


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