View Full Version : VoIP Telephony

Jack Hogoboom
09-20-2005, 9:00 PM
Anyone have any insights about voice over internet protocol telephony? Even though I have some clients who are providers, I've always thought it was more of a gimick than a real alternative to traditonal telephone service. About a month ago, however, I got an eye opener when a hedge fund client told me about the VoIP system they have. Basically allows them to control their office phones from home by clicking on a desktop icon. There was absolutely no difference in call quality. I had no idea until the client told me he was actually at home.

My wife works from home and I also do from time to time. It sure would be nice if it works....


Jim Becker
09-20-2005, 11:16 PM
What do you want to know?...it's what I do for a living... ;)

It's not a gimick; however, it's also not mature in certain critical areas...such as 911 support unless you are getting it from a company like Verizon. Even then they suggest you keep your POTS line (plain old telephone service) for emergency use. You also need a reasonably good Internet connection to support it since no consumer "high speed access" today supports what is called "Quality of Service". Voice traffic is very, very time sensitive and without QoS, your voice traffic could easily get stepped on by other things...like that big email you're sending or receiving or the gamers in the neighbohood if you are on cable. That's getting to be less of an issue since most cable and DSL providers have upped the speeds both "downstream" and more importantly "upstream"...the latter was always capped really low to prevent folks from running servers, but that practice could seriously affect performance of applications like VoIP.

And don't be fooled by what you see in offices for IP Telephony vs what is available for consumers...very different world right now!! Offices have a controlled network environment; homes do not. That said, I telecommute 100% of the time and use IP Telephony 100% for my communications...but I don't always use VoIP. The technology my company makes is more flexible than that as network performance is not always capable of supporting VoIP. I could go on and on, but... ;)

Jack Hogoboom
09-21-2005, 10:10 AM

As I mentioned, my wife works out of our house, as do I from time to time. We have four phone lines and pretty enormous bills.

We have very solid high speed cable internet from Patriot Media. Consistently 2.9 Mbs down and 700+ kbs up. VoIP might make sense for us. However, I checked it out on CNET last night and most of the providers receive horrible reviews, especially Vonage. AT&T seems to do much better.

Your comment about business v. consumer is very interesting. As I mentioned in my first post, I was very impressed by my client's capabilities. However, it may be that the consumer side isn't ready for prime time yet.


Jim Becker
09-21-2005, 10:17 AM
Jack, Verizon's VoiceWing service is getting some good comments from folks and the price is very reasonable. I'm actually considering switching our "house" line to that service when I move onto fiber, hopefully by the end of the calendar year, although they are moving a little slow with it right now. It includes all the desirable features (VM, CW, CID, etc) as well as all domestic calling for a flat rate. International rates are also very attractive and would allow us to stop using a third party for calls to Dr. SWMBO's sister in Spain.

Keep in mind that with the consumer offerings, you are still using your "regular phones"...they plug into an adapter near your router. However, the adapter that you plug into your 'net connection often cannot support a lot of wired phones. VoiceWing, for example, suggests you use a multi-handset wireless phone system...which I already use anyway for convenience. Softphone isn't normally a feature of the VoIP products from the "big boys" although it's possible with outfits like Vonage, etc. This will mitigate over time, I believe, as the services actually migrate to standards-based technology like Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for signaling...most are proprietary right now, however.

And I would still keep one line as a traditional POTS line for emergency use regardless... ;)

Jeremy Gibson
09-21-2005, 12:44 PM
I just got DSL out here in the woods a few weeks ago and my company (IBM) is pushing for home workers with broadband to sign up for AT&T VoIP. My real speed is about 1.1MBps download and 600 Kbps uplodad. As a test I installed Skype on my PC and had a conversation with a coworker in New Jersey. The clarity and speed sounded like my POTS line, so I felt the AT&T solution would work too.
I'm keeping my POTS w/ DSL for my home phone as it will serve as my emergency 911 number and will work in the event of a power outage. The VoIP will be used for my home-office line only. AT&T sent me a Linksys wired broadband router with four ethernet ports and two phone ports. Just plug the DSL or Cable ethernet into the Linksys and then connect PCs and standard phone devices to the appropriate ports on the Linksys. I was able to make an outgoing call immediately and it sounded even better than Skype on my PC. AT&T also handled the transfer of my office line and cancelation from the phone company - same number, much cheaper.
I don't think I'm ready to consider VoIP for all my phone needs, but for work or secondary numbers I think it's a great technology.

Jack Hogoboom
09-21-2005, 2:35 PM

Glad you had a good experience.

I'm a little leery for a couple of reasons. First, I'm running a wireless network in my house with about 8 nodes (don't ask). Each time I've replaced a router, it has been a major PITA. I am worried that the VoIP router won't play nice with my wireless access point.

Second, while I understand the reason why you kept one POTS line, it just seems like too much of a kludge to be half VoIP/half landline.


Jim Becker
09-21-2005, 6:07 PM
Jack, Verizon's access device plugs behind your existing router as far as I know. No replacement as with AT&T.

Jeremy Gibson
09-21-2005, 9:52 PM
Jack, Verizon's access device plugs behind your existing router as far as I know. No replacement as with AT&T.

Jim, I have the same belief. Verizon, Vonnage, and even AT&T have a telephone adapter that sits behind a router. Vonnage and AT&T also have a VoIP enabled router and that is what they sent me. It works in my configuration but the simple telephone adapter would have been simpler.

Jim Becker
09-21-2005, 10:03 PM
AT&T uses Cisco techology for their consumer VoIP offering so they offer both the integrated Linksys router/VoIP adapter or the standalone Linksys VoIP brick. (Linksys is a Cisco company) Vonage is using the same setup (http://vonage.com/help_knowledgeBase_article.php?article=111). I haven't seen which product that Verizon is using...they don't say on their online service description, but their diagram shown below almost insinuates that it's also Linksys based on the graphics. But as you state, in all cases, the service should be able to be used with a pre-existing router (wired or wireless) within reason by using the PAP2 or similar adapter behind it.


Jim Becker
09-27-2005, 3:59 PM
I thought I would bump this thread with a mention to anyone considering using Skype to fully understand how it works...a good discussion of that is contained in Tolly's Network World column this week. (Network World is a trade mag aimed at those of us in the telcom business) The link is http://www.networkworld.com/columnists/2005/092605tolly.html?ts

Bottom line...with Skype, you are allowing others to use your computer (and network) as part of a peer-to-peer network. That can have both security and performance implications, especially if it is not "your" network. (IE, at work)

Curt Harms
09-27-2005, 9:29 PM
We have Vonage. We already had a Linksys wireless router w/4 ethernet ports in addition to the wireless. The Vonage adapter was free after 3 months. No issues setting up service at all. We discontinued long distance service on land lines. The discontinued long distance pays for the Vonage service and then some. Anything more than down the street was long distance :mad: Right now we have 3 land lines in addition to Vonage. I wasn't in a hurry to discontinue any land lines until Vonage proved itself.We're using the Vonage service that includes 500 minutes/month for $15 or so. The Vonage adapter will support 2 lines so I'm thinking about moving one landline number to a second Vonage line $4.95/mo.

As others have alluded to, 911 service is a problem. We were asked to fill out a form to enable 911; some have had their service discontinued until they set up the 911 service. No broadband service no phone service so at least 1 land line seems prudent as the land line also provides proven 911 service.


Ed Lang
09-28-2005, 1:23 PM
I have been running Vonage for over a year and have no landline. I do have cell phones if Vonage should be out but so far, that has not happened. I am quite happy with Vonage. I run a wireless AP after the Vonage adapter so the VoIP controls how much bandwidth is available to my network. That big d/l does not hurt my phone quality. My ISP provides a wireless Internet connection to me as well so the electric company is the only wires that connect my house to anything.

Bill Antonacchio
09-28-2005, 2:04 PM
Hi Ed,

My ISP provides a wireless Internet connection to me

What speed u/d are you getting on this wireless ISP connection?