Friday, March 16, 2007

VoIP Telephony Part 2: VoIP Integration with Standard Phones and Cell Networks

VoIP Telephony Part 2 of 3

Many Internet telephony service providers (ITSP) are integrating their services into your current phone lines. VoIP is still widely used in two main ways: 1) Through a desktop computer, and 2) Through standard telephones patched through your Broadband connection. Now there is a third way, your cell phone.

Currently, a company called Jajah has service to allow customers to set up VoIP calls from their cell phones. They have announced that it will support Apple’s iPhone when it hits the market this summer. The folks over at DiVitas Networks are currently developing a way for cell phones to detect a WiFi connections and seamlessly switch from a cell network, and vice versa. This can help reduce cell phone usage costs.

VoIP telephone lines are becoming more and more popular with small and large corporations. Companies, such as NationwideLD, are trying to take advantage of its popularity by offering telephone services that can come out cheaper than the traditional land-based telephone companies. VoIP technology is an inexpensive alternative for long distance calls. That can save a lot of money for a business that needs to make a lot of calls to business associates in different parts of the world. Different extensions can be set up, much like a traditional phone line, and companies can even keep their current/original phone numbers. The same goes for residential VoIP use.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with cable and DSL companies offering telephone service in packages, especially cable companies that offer cable TV and internet. I’ve thought about getting one of these packages myself, but I’ve stopped myself short of getting everything in one bundled package. The reason?

Well, I’ve had cable TV and cable Internet shut down on me. Whether it be a system upgrade by the cable/ISP provider, or a power out, there is downtime and the consumer has no power over it. Imagine having a phone line through an Internet company and one of these outages happens or if electricity is down. No Internet service, no phone. Not a situation you would want to be in, in case of an emergency.

There are also concerns with 911 calls. A 911 call is usually connected to the nearest call center, but through VoIP, it’s hard to determine. Though a feature called “e911” does exist, and can direct you to the nearest call center, a lot of the VoIP companies don’t offer it, yet.

There are many other downsides to using a VoIP phone line, and I’ll cover that in the conclusion of my three-part blog on VoIP telephony. Regardless, though, VoIP companies are working towards solutions to all these issues in order to gain more subscribers in a growing lucrative market. The next wave of communication is on the horizon. Cell phones companies will have to deal with the new ITSP upstarts trying to take their customers. When the price of communication gets cheaper, I have a feeling “free minutes” on cell phones will be a thing of the past, and roaming charges will seem as primitive as the old “brick phones” used in the early 90s.