New Internet Telephone Services
We all probably cannot forget the do-do---do-do-do orange TV advertisements saying that people do stupid things. All of those were professionally staged and produced. They did bring my attention to Vonage one of the new Internet telephone service providers.
Internet telephony has been around for at least ten or more years. Over that time it has evolved significantly by Internet improvements designed to support voice traffic.
Voice and web site traffic are two different animals. Web site traffic can be delivered at any speed. The IP (Internet Protocol) provides best effort delivery. It does its best to deliver web site content to you, but if it does not get there quickly, so what.? You will request the web page content again. Voice is different. It streams into our phones at a rate of 64K bps. The 64K bps speed derives from the way that the Telephone network first encoded a voice telephone channel for digital transmission. Voice traffic must arrive at the constant 64K bps speed, otherwise we hear it clipped or warbled.
So ten years ago Quality of Service (QoS) was introduced into the Internet to give voice traffic higher priority over web site traffic. In this manner the voice traffic could stream in at 64K bps with certainty, while the web site traffic remained best effort. Some rough quick metrics are:
1.Voice Telephone line = 64K bps but today some run at 90K bps and provide better voice quality.
2.Standard TV = 384K bps – this is 4:3 aspect ration television.
3.HDTV = roughly 1,544K bps
4.Twenty four voice lines = one T-1 line = 1,500K bps or 1.544M bps
On the Internet today (that Al Gore did not invent – I have personally met some of the people that really invented the Internet.) carries all this traffic in digital form. It can carry these loads because the Internet communications links that interconnect the towns and cities in the United states are fiber optic links running at speeds up to around 10 billion bits per second (bps).
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the technology used by everyone to encode voice into packets with Quality of Service tags that permit voice to be streamed across the Internet into the receiving phone at 64K bps. Vonage, Comcast, and Verizon all provide boxes that work with normal analog phones to encode/decode voice into VoIP data streams and send them across the Internet.
Vonage charges a flat rate of $26 per month for both local and long distance phone service. Because of Federal Law guarantying number portability, you can switch to Vonage or Comcast from the Telephone Company and keep your same phone number. From the VoIP box you can call anywhere, but for some calls there is still a per minute charge because of International regulations. In theory when you pay a flat fee to connect your phone to the Internet, you should be able to make phone calls to anywhere that the Internet connects. The SKYPE software and service among others turns your PC into a phone. Other services and software make PCs into fax machines. All are based on Internet technology and QoS.
The 911 calls present a problem for VoIP services. They solve this by having you register your number with your physical location. Then your 911 calls are routed to the 911 service local to you along with your physical location information.
My conversion to Vonage presented a unique problem because as a nerd I have a PBX or telephone switch system in my home. Once connected, Vonage worked well and saves me money each month.
Link to "Is an Internet Phone Right for You?"
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