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Vonage Customer Reviews
Salt Lake City: impressions after several months
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Review: My First Day With Vonage, Excellent!
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You need some common sense.



Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...
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Will VoIP Disconnect The Telephone Companies?


Vonage In Print News

Will Voip Disconnect The Telephone Companies?

December 18, 2003

By Art Jahnke

When historians look back at the year 2003, they may well see it as the beginning of the end of the telephone-at least, the beginning of the end of the telephone as it was known for most of the 20th century. Is that sad? Is witnessing the obsolescence of the technology that let us “reach out and touch someone” a little like watching a dear old auntie relocate to a gated community in South Florida? Or is this the deliverance we’ve been waiting for? After all, this dear old auntie may be best remembered for forging the largest monopoly in the history of American business.


In either case, telephones, as we know them, may soon be history themselves, replaced by a new technology that does what telephones do a lot cheaper than telephone companies ever imagined possible. The new technology is Voice over Internet Protocol, and it is known as VoIP, which sounds, appropriately, like an expression of surprise, to be used in exclamations like “VoIP! Has anyone seen my telephone? It was here just the other day.”

VoIP, which, like it says, moves voice data over the Internet, has been around for years, but it is only in the last few months that it has raised its threatening head above the horizon,-- and perhaps someday, above Verizon. In September, the Scandinavian duo that created the file-sharing application KaZaa, launched Skype, another file-sharing app that swaps voice data files in real time, essentially turning any computer with a microphone and speakers into a telephone, albeit one that can, at this point, communicate only with other people who have downloaded Skype. That restriction, it turns out, is not as burdensome as it may seem. Like KaZaa and some other widely vilified file-sharing applications, Skype is free, and in its first four months it has been downloaded by more than four million people.

Skype, and the other freebies that will soon be available for download, represent the radical fringe of the challenge to phone companies. There is also a pack of independent companies offering subscriber Voip services that will transfer your phone number to their system and allow you to call other telephones. Vonage, the largest of these (with 80,000 customers), offers unlimited long-distance calling for about $38 a month. Then there are the phone companies themselves, which will soon offer Voip services that will compete with their other offerings. In the last few weeks, AT&T, Quest, SBC and Verizon have announced their intentions to sell Voip services in 2004.

Unfortunately for them, Voip is easier to replicate than traditional telephone services, so the battle for Voip will take place in an arena that is much more crowded than their old home field. It will no doubt include contenders from the broadband market --Time Warner Cable recently signed a three-way deal Voip deal with Sprint and MCI- as well as from software companies with considerably more clout than Skype.

Just two days ago, for example, Toshiba’s Digital Solutions Division launched a Voip client that, the company claims, can turn any Windows XP system into a desktop phone. And still more competition can be expected from Web portals such as Yahoo and MSN.

At this point, picking the winner of the Voip wars is like betting the SuperBowl of 2010, but one thing is certain: the fight will be long and hard. That’s because current Voip technologies have plenty of room for evolution.

After several years of tinkering, the voice quality is now excellent, but killer app of the next generation-video conferencing-- is still not close to being ready for prime time.

Of course, there is also plenty of time for evolution. After all, we got by with the telephone for nearly 100 years.

What do you think? Can telephone companies hold their own on this strange new battlefield? Has your company tried VoIP? Do you plan to try it soon?



 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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