Is VoIP the
"Next Big Thing" in Telecommunications?
VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol
has been simmering for the past few years. This year
the market has heated up. Many large businesses have
jumped on the VoIP bandwagon and have realized savings
of 50-percent or more off their phone bills. VoIP providers
are competing to add to or replace large PBX systems
for the corporations and add web conferencing capabilities
plus wireless VoIP (wVoIP) over LAN's as well.
Hospitals and other large, fragmented
workforces are discovering the value of using wireless
VoIP phones to converse with one another quickly and
efficiently while in different wings, floors or buildings
of a large facility. This kind of wireless VoIP setup
can have huge cost savings over cell phones and is more
efficient that using pagers.
While business VoIP has caught
on in the corporate landscape, residential VoIP is still
trying to take hold. This is largely because of a couple
of current disadvantages of VoIP. First, not all current
VoIP systems have power backups. When the power goes
out in a residence, the landline is still operational.
Since VoIP works over a high-speed Internet connection,
which requires power, if the power goes down, so does
the VoIP connection. This will be of concern to many
concerned about emergency situations. The good news
is that many VoIP hardware providers are starting to
deliver systems with power backup to address just this
The second drawback of residential
VoIP is that not all current VoIP service providers
offer full, 24-7 emergency 911 service. After hour calls
in Florida, may be mistakenly rerouted to Idaho for
instance. This is also about to change. The Federal
Communications Commission has mandated that all phone
service providers offer e911 service as standard. According
to the FCC, "All interconnected VoIP providers
must automatically provide E9-1-1 services to all customers
as a standard, mandatory feature without customers having
to specifically request this service. VoIP providers
may not allow their customers the option to "opt-out"
of E9-1-1 service."
Clearly, though, residential
VoIP is heading towards direct competition with
the local phone companies' coveted landlines. A couple
of years ago at a meeting in SBC's Publishing division,
one of the executive managers cried, "Landlines,
we need to stop losing landlines!" This was in
response to cell phone companies taking away market
share from the local Baby Bells. Now that VoIP is on
the radar, the executive management teams for the local
and long-distance phone companies must be huddling in
their back offices, trying to figure out how they will
stop the bleeding in the years to come.
With VoIP costing far less that
traditional local and long-distance phone service and
overcoming the last of the residential hurdles, one
can be sure that consumers will soon be taking notice.
Many will also start wearing t-shirt like "VoIP
VIP" and "Got VoIP?" to herald in the
new era in telecommunications.