Top Ten Questions People Ask About Switching to Internet Telephones
Subject:   inflated costs and benefits
Date:   2005-06-29 05:11:46
From:   williambeegle
A basic land line in PA with no features costs about $11/month after taxes -- the same as the most basic VOIP plans. For that, I get proper 911 routing and I don't have to mess with a UPS just to call the electric company when the power goes out.

There's also a problem with bandwidth and latency using VOIP. If you have a good internet provider and you don't use your internet connection while you're making a call, it sounds fine. However, my cable provider routinely has ping times in the 1-2 second range, and the line's oversubscribed enough that dropped packets are common.

Finally, to have VOIP, you need a real, routable IP address (that is, not 10.x.x.x or 192.168.x.x). A lot of ISPs, even broadband providers, won't give you one, or they make it very difficult to figure out how to get one. I've seen people who work in tech. support give up on VOIP because they got sick of fighting with the ISP and messing with firewall settings. I wouldn't even try to push VOIP on tech-illiterate family or friends.

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  • James E. Gaskin photo inflated costs and benefits
    2005-06-29 07:44:45  James E. Gaskin | O'Reilly Author [View]

    Thanks for your comments.

    Many of the VoIP issues are handled by the broadband phone service providers, so the struggle isn't the same as for enterprise VoIP. You don't, for instance, need a routable IP address for your voice device because the router works with NAT to make the connection (consumer VoIP, not "real" VoIP).

    Pricing varies widely, but I chose the more common $20 range rather than the $10-17 range still possible in some locations. National POTS pricing varies, but broadband phone pricing doesn't, making it a tough comparison at times.

    I have pushed VoIP, er, broadband phones on non-techies with good success. I wouldn't push them to get a SIPphone or FreeWorldDialup account, but Vonage aims exactly at non-techies and does a decent job.