Voice over IP

Death of Telephone, Part I: LinkedIn offers free voice calling to members

LinkedIn has announced free voice calling for its members. The business directory service has been adding new features recently, layering Facebook and Twitter style features on top of its basic resume and business contact services. In partnership with Plingm, a Swedish mobile VoIP provider (think Skype), any LinkedIn member will be able to initiate a voice call with any other LinkedIn member anywhere in the world. To take advantage of the service, you have to download the Plingm app for your smartphone.

Land lines are not going away

It is pretty easy to find a report that looks at the number of landlines being dropped and then projects that soon, everyone will just have a cellphone. I have written about this before, but it has become a pet peeve of mine. Lots of people do not need a landline, but many others do, especially businesses. I spent a frustrating fifteen minutes on the phone today with someone trying to do business over a cellphone, and it was a mess--drop outs, fuzz, and noise made it almost impossible to carry on a conversation.

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Broadband bringing $10 phone service

T-Mobile has announced $10/month VoIP (Voice over IP) phone service. It's an interesting twist on VoIP, with the company leveraging portions of its wireless cellular network to reduce the cost of providing the service. It is, however, a landline service, and you have to have T-Mobile cell service AND a broadband connection at your home. But you can't beat the price, which looks pretty good compared to an average $40-$50 per month cost of old-fashioned copper-based local/long distance bundles.

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Spit will be worse than spam

Spit (Spam over internet telephony) may be worse than spam, according to this article. As more and more businesses and people make the switch to VoIP telephone services like Vonage, the spammers are gearing up for the mother of all dinnertime sales call efforts. But wherease the Do Not Call list mandated by Congress managed to get those annoying POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) sales calls under control, Spit will be coming from servers in China, Nigeria, and other lawless areas of the globe, beyond the reach of U.S regulators.

VoIP pays big benefits

This short article from DefenseTech [link no longer available] indicates that the Navy expects to save 24% per year on it's $4 billion dollar telephone bill by switching to Voice over IP phone systems. In round numbers, that's about $1 billion a year, or enough to buy an entire aircraft carrier in five years. Businesses are consistently seeing that much savings or more, and reports of 40% savings are common. Of course, you have to have a reliable broadband connection to switch your business to VoIP.

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Skype is redefining the "phone"

eBay's purchase of Skype, the Internet phone service, appears to be reaping dividends in terms of new features for the phone service. Skype has been making more frequent upgrades to the software and service, and in the process, is redefining the telephone.

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Hybrid phones will become the standard

Swedish-Finnish telecom company TeliaSonera has started selling hybrid phones that will automatically make phone calls via the Internet when in range of a WiFi hotspot, and use the normal cellphone network when not in a hotspot. Some other dual mode phones have been available, but this is the first phone (manufactured by Samsung) that will switch automatically between the two. The firm is targeting in home use first, which is clever, because we make a lot of calls from home.

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Cordless phone makes VoIP easy

This new Skype-compatible VoIP phone is cordless, which fixes a limitation that has always made Skype and other Internet phone services clumsy--you had to be tethered to your computer. With this phone, a little widget plugs into a USB port and you can wander around the house or office with the cordless handset. As more phones like this become available, it will drive even higher use of VoIP.

Frightening device sends TV anywhere

This little device uses the videoconferencing facility of Skype (the VoIP software) to send a television stream to anyone with Skype. It's one of those odd little devices that often end up in ads on late night TV, and will probably amount to nothing, but it could become the monster that ate the Internet. It sounds like you could plug this into your cable or satellite TV jack, then have your computer call you at work to stream your favorite soap opera to your work computer, among other devilish uses.

Vonage is sinking

Vonage may be the first big casualty of the "Web 2.0" craze. While Voice over IP is technically not a Web 2.0 application, we can use Web 2.0 as shorthand for the same kind of hysteria we saw in 1999 and 2000, when a lot of really bad ideas (from a business perspective) got way too much venture capital funding.

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Knowledge Democracy:

Will UMA save the cellular industry?

In a perfect world, we would throw our cellular phones away and move as fast as possible to an all Internet wireless system, using VoIP to make phone calls and the same packet-based IP transport for all other kinds of data--one kind of transport system for everything--voice, video, Web, you name it.

Toronto announces wireless blanket

I am not a big fan of me-too municipal wireless projects. Wireless technology remains in flux, with new equipment and systems coming online constantly. Interference and bandwidth issues have to be considered very carefully when designing these systems. And you have to know how you are going to pay for the network management and maintenance.

In other words, a community should not be planning a big wireless initiative just because "that's what they are doing in Philadelphia."

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Microsoft to offer VoIP

Microsoft has announced that the company will start bundling a voice telephony application into mobile versions of Windows Mobile that runs on smartphones and PDAs. It is apparently bundled with mobile versions of Office, meaning the initial marketing is aimed at business users rather than casual consumers, who are not likely to spend the money for a copy of Office for their phone.

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Skype phones take off

Skype continues to expand its grip on the Internet voice telephony marketplace by providing technical specs that describe how to build a phone with Skype software built in. MSNBC has an article that describes a whole slew of new Skype phones. The new handsets untether Skype calls from a computer handset.

Has Skype won the VoIP wars?

Several business associates and I decided to try a Skype voice conference call the other day. I had not looked at the Mac Skype software since it was first announced; at that time, I was not impressed. The latest version has an excellent interface and features built in chat and file sharing.

Voice quality was superb--better than a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) landline. The built in address book makes one click dialing dead simple.

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Skype conference phone

When companies start making real products for some other company's service, you know something is going on. Skype is beginning to make real inroads on the VoIP marketplace, and hardware manufacturers think there is money to be made.

XING is a conference phone made expressly to work with Skype and only Skype. Niche market? Yes, but apparently big enough to actually make stuff for it.

Radio Shack will sell Skype phones

Skype has announced a deal with Radio Shack to have the electronics retailer sell Skype-ready phones and headsets.

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15 megabit mobile VoIP in Japan

Japan has announced a plan to roll out mobile Voice over IP services nationwide in less than two years, leaving the U.S. in dust. The new system will handle data speeds of 15 megabits/second, or 15-25 times faster than typical wired DSL and cable servie in the United States and nearly a thousand times faster than typical 3G cellphone data services.

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VoIP will be huge

"VoIP's gonna be huge." That's what the Register headline says, and the article goes on to say that the traditional telcos are running scared--that telco VoIP offerings are being rolled out because the companies fear that if they don't, VoIP upstarts will steal all their voice business.

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Why read this blog?

Christopher Miller points to an interesting survey that says 87% of Americans don't know what VoIP (Voice over IP) is. Ten percent thought it was a "low carb vodka," and another group thought it was some kind of European hybrid car.

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