Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Internet Based Phones Not For Everyone

Just when many of us are getting comfortable using our mobile phones to make calls instead of using the old hard wired land line from “Ma Bell,” another digital twist to this simple task surfaces. I am referring to making phone calls, from your home or cell phone, using the Internet instead of traditional phone networks. The technical term of this technology is “Voice Over IP” or “VOIP” (voice communication using Internet protocol).

The traditional hard wired telephone networks have not changed in basic design for years. They are based on having a dedicated wire going from a central office to each phone on the network. You have a wire connecting your house to the network and all your neighbors on the street have separate wires as well. Voice over IP uses the Internet so your calls and your neighbors’ calls and your kid’s Facebook posting and that YouTube video you are watching and that email being sent to your good friend in Estonia are all sharing the same Internet.

You may have read that Google is the most recent competitor to enter this burgeoning market. Watching late night TV you will see several others. There you will find promotions for magicJack, Vonage, Skype and others. While they are all a bit different, they have in common the use of the Internet for the backbone of the service.

As you consider using one of these services there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, you must have a high speed Internet connection available. In our area for most of us that means you need RoadRunner from Time Warner or ZoomTown from Cincinnati Bell. Also, you must have a computer connected to the Internet and running 24/7 to use the services.

The next important things to remember is that these services are not all the same. For example, magicJack allows you to use the regular telephones in your house to place and receive calls from any phone, traditional hard wired, mobile, or VOIP in the world. Skype uses your computer’s microphone and speakers rather than a traditional telephone handset.

Some of these services are free, others charge for all or some of the features. If you make lots of international calls, there are significant savings. If you like to make video calls to family and friends, some of this technology is wonderful. There is no question that all of our communications will one day flow over the Internet; much of it does already. In my opinion, for the vast majority of us the traditional phone and the mobile phone system is just fine for now. They are inexpensive, reliable and easy to use.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home