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New Study Finds VOIP is Getting Better

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the also-water-is-good-for-you dept.

Communications 376

Proudrooster writes "Keynote Systems Inc. made 154,000 VOIP calls during the months of May and June. In total they tested six VOIP providers and seven ISPs. Their conclusion was that VOIP isn't quite as robust as the public phone network due to dropped calls, lower audio quality, and latency (audio delay), but it is still pretty good. The worst VOIP provider had an availability of 94.8% (which isn't bad) and overall the reviewers were pleasantly surprised with the VOIP test results. Vonage ranked best for "most reliable" with 99.4% uptime, AT&T CallVantage ranked best for "audio clarity"." Personally I think 94.8% is pretty awful. I don't think 99.4% is very good either. But there is no doubt that audio quality is getting better. I only maintain my land line now for my HD Tivo to dial out from.

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376 comments

Take heed (5, Insightful)

bigwavejas (678602) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128887)

The worst VOIP provider had an availability of 94.8% (which isn't bad)

I disagree entirely! When someone's life may depend on a call going through (911) I would say anything below 99.99 (repeating) is unacceptable.

In addition...
There is another problem with using VOIP. When the internet goes down your VOIP phone may go with it. We use VOIP phones at work and I recall a situation last year where a hacker brought our internet connection to its knees (hence no VOIP phones) and everyone was running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to figure out how to make calls. Our solution was to use cell phones for back-up, but I couldn't help but point out if we had regular phones we would have avoided the problem entirely.

Re:Take heed (2, Informative)

linzeal (197905) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128936)

Emergency phone calls should go through a centralized system or set of protocols that is shared by all the providers and is monitored by the FCC to ensure what you are talking about.

Re:Take heed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13128989)

You shouldn't use VOIP for 911 calls. It's not designed for that. Use VoIP for cheap, not for critical. Don't use the wrong sollution and then blame the technology.

Re:Take heed (2, Interesting)

mattdm (1931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129106)

You shouldn't use VOIP for 911 calls. It's not designed for that. Use VoIP for cheap, not for critical. Don't use the wrong sollution and then blame the technology.

That's nice and all, but meanwhile people/companies are pushing ditching traditional phone service for this. And for that, they absolutely deserve that blame.

Re:Take heed (1)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128990)

Amen brother! If that downtime is randomly distributed, than means that about 1 call in 20 won't happen because your VOIP provider is down.
Personally, I receive about that many calls over the course of a day, and place about twice that many. Thankfully, I've only called 911 twice in the past 10 years, but it would be annoying as hell to accept a ~5% failure rate for telephony.

Re:Take heed (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129020)

The worst VOIP provider had an availability of 94.8% (which isn't bad)

I disagree entirely! When someone's life may depend on a call going through (911) I would say anything below 99.99 (repeating) is unacceptable.


Seriously. 94.8% means there's a one in 20 chance that when you pick up your phone, it's not going to work. That is the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette in an emergency.

There is another problem with using VOIP. When the internet goes down your VOIP phone may go with it.

In addition to the issue you mentioned, you forgot about a simple power failure.

When the power went out in the northeast of the US a year or two ago, VoIP was toast. And that's exactly the sort of time you don't want your phone going down.

(Of course, this is also true of cordless phones, but anyone can head to a drug store in a major power outage and buy a $10 AT&T corded phone if they don't already have one. This cannot be done for a VoIP phone, though.)

Re:Take heed (2, Interesting)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129159)

I recall when hurricane Isabel hit here lots of co-workers told me they had to scramble to find a phone that didn't require power to work. I only have one such phone (it actually does need power, but uses batteries). Most household phones nowadays are feature laden and require external power (especially true of cordless phones).

So during a critical emergency, how many people have time to go digging through their basement to find an old telephone?

Re:Take heed (1)

digidave (259925) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129231)

My ISP, Cogeco, is offering VOIP with a modem that has an 8 hour battery backup. Definitely a nice feature.

Re:Take heed (2, Insightful)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129241)

When the power went out in the northeast of the US a year or two ago...

...but anyone can head to a drug store in a major power outage and buy a $10 AT&T corded phone if they don't already have one.

I went to CVS on the day that happened. The power wasn't out in our area, but was out in much of the northeast. The funny part was that CVS couldn't sell anything, because the connection from their registers to their datacenter was down. Thus, I was unable to purchase a phone (or a Coke, actually).

Re:Take heed (2, Insightful)

bedroll (806612) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129264)

When the power went out in the northeast of the US a year or two ago, VoIP was toast. And that's exactly the sort of time you don't want your phone going down.

Sure, but Verizon Wireless was still going strong. I happen to have been there for that, although I had power after a half hour (party at my place!) and Vonage was back to working. I didn't care, I only used Vonage that night to order Chinese for my guests.

Aside from that, you do realize that the landline companies aren't allowed to completely cut off your service, right? They have to allow the line to access 911 services. So, even if you get VOIP you can still have that corded phone plugged into the land line incase of an emergency. You could also just use a cell phone, as they have similar reliability and the chances that both services would be out is pretty slim. If they are, skip Walgreens and call 911 from the payphone outside.

Re:Take heed (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129030)

Not really. Last time I dealt with being hacked they simply cut our physical phone lines to the building.. meanwhile the network, which was wireless, kept going and no hacking attempts were very successful.

If you rely on your wired phone always being there then you're kidding yourself as to it's reliability. I experience a lot more downtime from my regular phone lines than from my Internet.

Re:Take heed (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129070)

and if you had stayed with carrier pigions, you wouldn't have to deal with fiber optic cable cuts either.. Face it, all new technology is never as good as the old when it first comes out. VOIP is nowhere near standard telephones for emergency, but way, way far ahead on capability. The fact that local PUC's have given phone companies legal monopolies over areas because they promise this kind of capability is one reason they are ahead. (BTW, any VOIP consultant worth more than $0.50/hour should be requiring at least 1 POTS line per building, just for this reason..)

In northern Oregon last week, my friends lost all long distance, internet, (except cable internet) cell phones, and every thing that goes with it. (like ATM's, Visa machines, Bank branches, etc) The reason? A rodent ate through a fiber cable, killing the main line out of town. The backups lines didn't work either, they are "investigating" that... If they had carrier pigeons, they would have been fine.. Or the post office..

Re:Take heed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129076)

So your VOIP serivce becomes unusable when you're hit with many gbps of traffic from a network of thousands of zombies?

What happens to your N land lines when you have N+1 people wanting to make a call?

Re:Take heed (1)

axonal (732578) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129093)

You could still run into the same problem with regular phone lines. Its possible to create a DoS with normal phones. A bunch of computers programmed to wardial continously a number. Your phones would be ringing off the hook.

Re:Take heed (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129110)

When the internet goes down your VOIP phone may go with it.

I'm sure someone, somewhere on an ISP help desk is laughing about this ingenious plan ;)

Or Put Another Way... (4, Insightful)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129165)

94.8% is....

20 full days per year down time or

1.2 hours down EVERY DAY!

And to make matters worse, failures tend to occur more often when things are heavily loaded - ie. not in the wee hours but rather when people actually want to use the phone.

Obviously someone has a different definition of "not bad" than I do.

I remember when M$ proudly claimed 99.9% uptime for NT. To me that sounded terrible. Over 3.5 FULL 24 HOUR DAYS of downtime every year. Horrid!

Re:Take heed (1)

sbrown123 (229895) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129227)

When someone's life may depend on a call going through (911) I would say anything below 99.99 (repeating) is unacceptable.

Thats interesting. Most VOIP operations are using the same 911 services used by most cell phone providers. You advocating everyone returning cell phones too?

There is another problem with using VOIP. When the internet goes down your VOIP phone may go with it.

Lets see: I've been using the internet over a decade. I must admit that I haven't seen a hacker take down the internet yet. Maybe I just was not on during when that occured and they corrected the problem before I noticed. Have to go to bed some time!

We use VOIP phones at work and I recall a situation last year where a hacker brought our internet connection to its knees (hence no VOIP phones) and everyone was running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to figure out how to make calls.

Wow. My last employer had the complete opposite problem. But the nemesis wasn't hackers, it was thunderstorms. Every year we could count on a storm knocking out the phone service. Storms seem a more common threat to communication technology as compared to hackers taking down the internet.

And if your using DSL to connect for VOIP, and your phone line goes down, aren't you SOL anyways?

5.2% failure (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129284)

The worst VOIP provider had an availability of 94.8% (which isn't bad) [cough cough]

Look at it this way: Out of 500 'emergency' calls, 26 would fail... If you presume that only 10% are potentially fatal, that's one or two dead bodies. VOIP is fine for cheap long distance, but when it comes to HA, I'm keeping my land line. It's the same reason that I will always have a 'dumb' phone on my phone line. Every once in a while I spend long enough on the phone that I wear out both my primary and backup battery.

Wireless is nice, but sometimes it's more important to just be able to keep talking. Similarly: Unless you attach your base-station to a UPS, it's hard to call when the power is out (although I've only had 2 outages in the last 5 years, and one of those was about 90 seconds).

Re:Take heed (2, Insightful)

kesuki (321456) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129308)

whoo hoo you just said 100% uptime is the only 'acceptable' uptime for anyone. there is a 'bug' in the decimal system. any 'infinitely repeating' decimal string can through a valid algebra equasion be proven to be equal to 1 (or in this case 100).

EG: 99.99~ = X ; 10*99.99~ = 10x ; 999.99~ - X = 10X -X ; 900 = 9X ; 100 = X

keep in mind in order to offer 100% uptime the telcos have triple circuit redundancy... and even then '100%' means 'barring an act of god, or terrorism'

Five nines. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129312)

99.999% uptime or availability is is referred to as five nines by the telecom industry. It means that there will be a maximum of 5 minutes of down time or unavailability in an entire year!

99.4%, the best VoIP providers availability is 3,154 minutes of down time or unavailability. Thats 52.6 HOURS per year where the phone doesn't work!!! What's worse is that you have no control over when that down time is! I hope for your sake that you don't need to call 911 during those 52.6 hours per year.

Then there is the whole 911 problem. The FCC in their omnipotent magnificence has deemed that all providers will offer E911 service by... There's about 60 days left for compliance I don't know how many exactly. But, there's no way to provide real E911 service without sending GPS coordinates with the call. None of the present VoIP protocols are designed with this capability so there is no way that VoIP as it presently exists can provide E911 capability. No way!!

Then after you work out all of the other problems, there are the problems with VoIP over the internet. Details like DDoS attacks, spam, and the total lack of end-to-end QoS. Until all of these issues are resolved, VoIP cannot be expected to replace the land line. I'm as big a techno geek as the next guy. I use VoIP via Nortel BCM's and Asterisk PBX's. But, I will not let go of the traditional POTS land line. I will probably maintain a POTS line for as long as I live because no amount of IP or virtual this-and-that will ever be as good as solid copper to the handset!

Can you tolerate the loss of your phone for 52.6 hours?
99.4% uptime == 52.6 hours of downtime per year.

Re:Take heed (1)

Phurd Phlegm (241627) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129315)

The worst VOIP provider had an availability of 94.8% (which isn't bad)
I disagree entirely! When someone's life may depend on a call going through (911) I would say anything below 99.99 (repeating) is unacceptable.
I disagree too. An availability of 94.8% means once in twenty times when you pick up the phone, there's no dialtone. Considering that I was probably 20 before the first time this happened with my land line (except for when the other people on the party line were talking), I'd say VOIP is not ready for prime time.

I have a geekie friend that has VOIP and he's thinking of dropping it because it sounds worse than his cell phone(!).

This is not an ATM network (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129324)

The internet is not an ATM network. Voiceip is just something you supplement your regular service with. BTW we have problems with our pbx systems all the time, and they are not voiceip.

directivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13128899)

[quote]I only maintain my land line now for my HD Tivo to dial out from.[/quote]

that's stupid. get a usb network card or wireless device.

Re:directivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129031)

But then he couldn't brag about his HD Tivo to all of the /. readers.

Re:directivo (3, Informative)

doughrama (172715) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129075)

No It's not that stupid.

HD Tivo's are the unit's produced to work with DirecTV's HD. These boxes have their USB Ports disabled. So you suggestion will not work. AFAIK.

If I'm wrong somebody please enlighten me because I would like to put my HD Tivo on the network like I do with my regular series 2 Tivo's.

Re:directivo (1)

pikman (885526) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129286)

After trolling through the tivo forums which is a gigantic time consuming pain if you want to learn anything about modifying your tivo I have come to the conclusion that DirecTV tivos (both HD and regular) have their usb ports disabled as the poster noted above.

I was going to get VOIP, but... (5, Funny)

swelke (252267) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128908)

Ya' know, I was going to get VOIP, but then I realized that with my dialup internet connection, it might be kind of redundant.

Re:I was going to get VOIP, but... (1)

hardaker (32597) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129322)

Not at all. Then you can use the phone *while* you're using the internet. Just think of the possibilities man! Incredibly slow multi-player games while talking really slowly to them at the same time! Beat that!

Not only ... (1)

Perren (164318) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128911)

Is 94.8% pretty bad, you have to take the union of your VOIP providers downtime with your ISPs downtime to get your true total VOIP downtime. At least with my Comcast service, that's bound to be even higher.

Re:Not only ... (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129055)

In the business world, when installing a real VOIP system like Avaya, Shoretel, Cisco or NEC, we look for 5 9s (buzzword bingo, anyone?).

Not hard to achieve, but you need some pretty big batteries for the PoE switches.

99.44% (4, Funny)

mph (7675) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128916)

I don't think 99.4% is very good either.
Come on! That's near Ivory Soap levels of purity!

Loving VOIP here (3, Interesting)

SYFer (617415) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128921)

Hey rooster: can't you put that TiVo on your home network? I don't have an HD model, but my Series 2 connects via Linksys USB wireless and works great.

Also, although not rated (and maybe that's because it's just a re-branded service from one of those that was--I don't know), my Speakeasy VOIP works pretty well. Voice quality is far superior to my old telco service, but there are indeed occasional minor dropouts or fizzle-outs. Since I also have a mobile phone, that gives me adequate redundancy in the event my service goes down, so I've been pleased overall.

With broadband and VOIP now coming from from Speakeasy, I can't tell you how nice it is NOT to be doing any business whatsoever with my old nemesis, SBC (formerly Pac Bell here in CA). Of course, in time, I may come to view Speakeasy the same way, but not yet. Perhaps I'm in the "rebound" phase after my divorce with SBC, but there's a spring in my telecommunications once step again.

Re:Loving VOIP here (1)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129143)

I agree with parent, actually I've got vonage for my primary line and broadvoice for a secondary with free calls to europe (quality is awful though, drop-outs, etc), because speakeasy didn't offer voip till i signed on to vonage and switching is a pain. Also, broadvoice has very little customer service, but if you're a tweaker it's awesome, they give you asterisk pbx setup options and everything.

For 911 use a mobile. the internet isn't up to life-critical reliability yet by a long way, but it's generally cheaper and more flexible if you want to experiment. Still don't think voip is completely there for jon q yet, but for businesses it's a no-brainer.

In the end though, anything to get out of the telco's grasp is a win.

A few weeks ago some genius came up with the unbelievably (apparently for him) brilliant idea of tying 2 cell phones with in network calling into a voip system for unlimited airtime. With bluetooth and asterisk you can do that easily if that's what you need, and get cheap overseas calls. In the end voip is the flexibility to do what you want to do, but the good-ol' "plug it in and it works" aspect is lost to the comprimise.

Re:Loving VOIP here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129163)

I HIGHLY doubt you will. I've yet to meet a customer service rep who wasn't willing to bend over backwards to make sure I was happy. As long as you don't get hostile about the higher prices you won't become jaded with them unless they have a serious corporate culture change.

No need for that... (2, Informative)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128922)

I only maintain my land line now for my HD Tivo to dial out from.

Normal TiVos can be configured to get data over the internet rather than over the phone line. Can this not be done on HD TiVos?

Re:No need for that... (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129072)

I only maintain my land line now for my HD Tivo to dial out from.

I sure never liked the idea of a Tivo needing to dial out on a telephone line. This really sucks, in my area it would mean you would spend about an extra $30 (including all the extras the telco wants to tack on, and not including features like caller ID) just so your Tivo can call home. As VoIP gains ground I hope any service that expects to be provided a land line will feel the pressure on their bottom line as customers abandon them.

Re:No need for that... (1)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129202)

The stand alone TiVo's can use a network connection. If you want to on a DirecTV integrated unit (which includes the HD TiVo) it requires hacking.

This is a DirecTV limitation, not a TiVo limitation.

Re:No need for that... (1)

brjndr (313083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129091)

DirecTV has not enabled the use of USB ports on the direcTivo's, and so far they are the only ones who offer HD Tivo. This means you are left using the land line if you have a HD Tivo.

Re:No need for that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129174)

You can use the fax line option for vonage to do the dialout, you just have to set the modem baud rate to ~9600 because there is a little more line noise on the voip line.

Why keep POTS for Tivo? (1)

MilesParker (572840) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128928)

Tivo can connect through network..I have both of my \boxes set up from wireless hub. Or is this only an issue for some reason w/ HD Tivo?

Re:Why keep POTS for Tivo? (2, Informative)

mph (7675) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128972)

Tivo can connect through network..I have both of my \boxes set up from wireless hub. Or is this only an issue for some reason w/ HD Tivo?
DirecTV units can't use the network (or at least my non-HD one can't). Maybe he's using DirecTV.

Yes prob. true... (1)

MilesParker (572840) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129080)

Hmmm..hadn't considered that. I have Dish now and they don't require a landline at all. Thats the problem w/ the integrated units. And remembering now I think the only way to get HD Tivo is to use the combo DirectTV unit.

Re:Yes prob. true... (1)

doughrama (172715) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129149)

DirectTV's HD Tivo's don't "require" a land line either. But, you need to use the land line if you want to purchase PPV type stuff.

I've never plugged my unit into the land line, though I'm about to because of the annoying message I get each day telling me I haven't called in several hundred days.

Re:Why keep POTS for Tivo? (1)

LinuxHam (52232) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129185)

DirecTV units can't use the network

Sure they can. You, my friend, need 9thtee.com. I used to login and schedule recordings on my buddy's DirecTiVO all the time. It works fine.

Re:Why keep POTS for Tivo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129321)

You know not what you're talking about. They can be hacked to allow a network connection, but they can't use the network without voiding the warranty.

99.4% sucks (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128939)

my land line works 100% of the time. That's not 2 nines, or even 5 nines. 100% of the time, through blizzard after blizzard here in the Northeast US, through rainstorms, through anything. You know what's nice about that? 911.
99.4% = 4 HOURS a month, your phone doesn't work. That's absurdly crappy. At that reliability level, it should be a free product.

Re:99.4% sucks (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129141)

my land line works 100% of the time.

You've never had Bell South for a phone company have you?

Re:99.4% sucks (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129193)

How often do you check it? Can you say for certain that you have metered its availability nearly enough to make a conclusion like that? Saying "it's there whenever *i* needed it" doesn't count.

Re:99.4% sucks (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129232)

Actually, it does count. They sampled a VoIP line at some frequency, did the math and got 99.4%. I sample my landline at some frequency, do the math, and get 100%.

Re:99.4% sucks (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129330)

Using that methodology, for the past year then I can say Vonage has a 100% reliability factor and that the reports sampling is incorrect. Since for the past year, I've not had a drop or unavailability at all with Vonage when I picked up the phone.

Not the complete picture. (3, Informative)

raehl (609729) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129303)

911 is a free product - so get your free 911 landline, then get VOIP phone service.

Also, 99.4% reliability is perfectly fine for many users - like me. I have a cell phone (actually, two, with different providers) and VOIP. If for some reason my VOIP phone isn't working, I've got my cell phone.

Also, I'd be curious as to how they determined 99.4% reliability. Was that .6% of outage due ONLY to times when vonage was out, or did that also include ANY time the end user was unable to make a call - be it power outage, cable outage, etc.

I've had vonage for months, and the only times it hasn't worked for me were when the power was out or when the cable was out. My cell phone worked fine in either case.

99.4%!? (2, Insightful)

Shkuey (609361) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128943)

That's terrible, that means with the best service 1 in 200 calls doesn't go through? I run an old school PBX where we make hundreds, possibly thousands, of calls each day. I couldn't deal with that kind of poor reliability.

Re:99.4%!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129133)

The newer non-voip pbx here has already gotten down to 3 or 4 9's. Its a damn expensive system for a ton of lines here on campus. I'm pretty sure the largest outage this year was at least 30 minutes.

Ugh.

Who are you VOIPing today? (1)

hexed_2050 (841538) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128945)

Great!! 90+% availability! Now only 1 in 10 customers will get the 'Sorry, we are trying to save money so we can't take your call right now.' message.

It's good enough for me (4, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128948)

I made the switch to Vonage and disconnected my land line several months ago. Overall, the service is fine by me (actually I've had more trouble getting support than with the phone service itself).

I have noticed an outage or 2, even when my Internet service was up. So don't take the plunge if you can't tolerate a missing dialtone. Personally, I don't think it's a big deal, anymore than when I'm out of the house away from the phone (no I do not have a cellphone).

Re:It's good enough for me (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129017)

I made the switch to Vonage and disconnected my land line several months ago.

Okay, I'm not about to do that, primarily because I don't use the phone that much myself, but I'm curious: what happens with 911? do you even get someone at the other end? or is the number just not there?

Re:It's good enough for me (1)

pcidevel (207951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129206)

You have to sign up for 911 service (for free) by assigning an address to your account, and then it just works. But if you disconnect your router and plug it into someone elses internet (say you take it with you on vacation), then when you call 911 it will report your home address.

Re:It's good enough for me (1)

tiker (604592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129317)

I've just signed up myself for Vonage. The delivery guy with the linksys box was at my house today; but I'm at work.

I spend at most 15 minutes a month on my home phone line. Paying almost $40 (Canadian) a month for 15 minutes is kinda bad when I can pay $20 from Vonage.

For the 911 stuff you can read Vonage's explaination at http://vonage.ca/features.php?feature=911 [vonage.ca]

Good Cost Saving as Last Resort (2, Informative)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128961)

We support people in several countries and sometimes the most cost effective way to get through is VOIP. Many times it is also has an almost intolerable delay. If it is a conference call with one person at a time giving information it is OK, with an actual conversation it is nearly impossible.

Baby Bells (4, Insightful)

ffejie (779512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128969)

The Baby Bells keep their uptime greater than 5 nines typically.

99.999%

Show me VoIP that does 99.99% and then I'll consider switching.

Re:Baby Bells (1)

CE@UIC (14343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129150)

Actually, the Bells keep their uptime at 7 nines. Cellular shoots for 5 nines (obviously this is for the network not people in elevators).

Re:Baby Bells (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129270)



I have Vonage, given the cost especially with international call for the average home user it work great. Plus I as most peopel do have a cell phone so for me it works. Baby Bells despight the competition are still price gouging. I made a 15 minute call to jamaica which cost me over $100 dollars. given my family lives there I prefer being able to contact them in imergencies ( hurricane) and not have to worry about my phone bill.

Re:Baby Bells (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129293)

As a point of reference:

1 nine: 90% availability, or 37 days of downtime per year
2 nines: 99% availability, or 88 hours of downtime per year
3 nines: 99.9% availability, or 9 hours of downtime per year
4 nines: 99.99% availability, or 53 minutes of downtime per year
5 nines: 99.999% availability, or 315 seconds of downtime per year
6 nines: 99.9999% availability, or 32 seconds of downtime per year
7 nines: 99.99999% availability, or 3 seconds of downtime per year

Re:Baby Bells (1)

RosenSama (836736) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129314)

I can see those needs for a business, but at home I really can handle much lower availability. I mean, if I understand what the "service availability" represents in the conclusion link, your service level means that for every 10,000 calls to or from you, only one or none could not go through or disconnect before you finish. Even when my VoIP is out, it still goes to voicemail. I'm not a huge phone user, so 10,000 calls is roughly 7 years worth of calls. Personally, I can live with more than one call in 7 years winding up in voicemail.

Availability (2, Funny)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128971)

Personally I think 94.8% is pretty awful. I don't think 99.4% is very good either.

"We can't give you 5 nines availability, would you settle for 9 fives?"

Thanks Taco.. (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128973)

Personally I think 94.8% is pretty awful. I don't think 99.4% is very good either. But there is no doubt that audio quality is getting better. I only maintain my land line now for my HD Tivo to dial out from.

I only use my landline as a tax shelter to save my millions upon millions of dollars from the taxman.

Thanks for rubbing that little taco factoid in.

I'm amused (1)

CreepingDeath (17019) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128980)

Proudrooster dosn't know you can use a usb network adapter on your tivo2 and "Dial-out" over your broadband connection? Well, you can ;) list of supported nic's [tivo.com]

Re:I'm amused (1)

ahaning (108463) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129217)

I'm amused that you've been here as long as you have and yet you still don't know how to read the stories.

The part in quotes and italics was from Proudrooster. Then CmdrTaco added his bit.

And yikes, the "-1, Redundant" moderation will get a workout because of that TiVo comment.

Re:I'm amused (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129265)

Can you not use a modem over VoIP? I've used fax over VoIP so why not a modem? I thought about setting up an old fashioned dial-up BBS over VoIP just for fun. Put some access lines in various big cities.

Love to Hate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13128984)

Your local telco that everyone loves to hate is required to provide 5 nines availability. Your service must work 99.999% of the time.

Re:Love to Hate (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129187)

Umm.. I haven't had a telco that did that in my entire lifetime and I've lived through several states and in both major cities and rural areas. Where are they checking the lines at?

Downtime (1)

th1ckasabr1ck (752151) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128986)

5% of one year is about 438 hours of downtime/year or 18.25 days. That seems like WAY too much downtime.

Re:Downtime (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129210)

Wrong math. I think its more like out of 100 calls you make, 5 would get dropped. Since you can really be on the phone every second of the day.

And if my math is right, 99.999% would be 1 in every 100,000 calls would get dropped. So yeah, it is very bad service.

Landline for Tivo (1)

prakslash (681585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13128993)

I only maintain my land line now for my HD Tivo to dial out from

You could be smarter!

If you already have broadband for VOIP, use the connection for Tivo's network-connectivity feature to do updates over the network. All you need is a USB-to-CAT5 adapter. This will save you another $30-50 a month.

Dear Prakslash (1)

Letter (634816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129103)

Dear Prakslash,

Good call. Now CmdrTaco will dump his landline, immediately have a heart attack, and won't be able to dial 911. Thanks, 99.4% uptime!

Letter

99.4% is not that good (2, Insightful)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129004)

99.4% of uptime equates to 518.4 seconds of unavailablity per day.

That's roughly 8 minutes of the day that you won't be able to use your phone. Given that unavailability is usually related to demand, you won't be able to use your phone for 8 minutes during the hours that you'd really like to.

Also, consider that for a bit more money you can get a land line with better voice quality and unlimited calling as well.

My vonage expereince has been great.... (2, Interesting)

MilesParker (572840) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129015)

I have had 100% uptime -- e.g. I have never not had a dialtone when I picked up and to my knowledge have never been droppped. And quality is hugely better than my POTS line was.

But the best thing has been cost. I am paying $14.95 a month for better service than the $60+ a month I was paying to my local telco and MCI. And my local bell "wants me back". Uh, keep dreaming guys...

QOS, 911, regulation (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129022)

With regular phone service, you get:

Independent network, assuming cable not DSL
911
Quality of service: availability, reliability, signal/noise, time-to-repair, etc.
Regulation on quality and pricing
Works when the power is out
Not as cheap as VoIP, unless you are poor and get subsidized service

With VoIP you get:
Network dependent on underlying internet
Limited if any 911
Best-effort signal/noise
Good-enough(?)-but-unregulated quality of service
Little or no regulation beyond 911
Works when the power is out as long as your batteries last.
Cheap.
Generally no subsidized service, but most people on welfare aren't getting high-speed internet.

The best part: You get to choose.

And this is news? (3, Insightful)

Szaman2 (716894) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129046)

How is this news? I would expect VOIP to get better. If it was getting worse - that would be newsworthy I guess...

What next? Study shows that CPU's are getting faster? Study shows that Linux is getting easier to install and maintain? I would say this is the natural progress. Things improve over time - that's just how it works.

Re:And this is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129213)

How is this an original post? If /. posted a story no one had a gripe with -- that would be postworthy I guess...

What's next? Complaints about dupes? Linux zealots claiming that the OS is easy to use? I would say that /. posts that gripe are the norm. People bitch about it over time--that's just how it is.

OK, but how are the smaller ones doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129065)

I always wanted to know more about VOIP, but I am particularly interested in SIPphone. How does their service compare with the rest?

Tivo over VOIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129095)

I must be doing something wrong. I get my data for my TIVO by phone connected to Vonage VOIP. Never been a problem.

Why can't Tivo use voip? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129123)

I only maintain my land line now for my HD Tivo to dial out from.

The phone jack of a consumer voip router emulates a plain ordinary phone jack, with dial tone. You plug a regular analog phone into the jack and it just works. Pretty much everything that works with a real dial tone will work with the fake dial tone.

Why would the Tivo not work?

In response to several of posts (2, Informative)

RecoveredMarketroid (569802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129173)

I recently switched to a VoIP provider. The cost is about 1/3 of what a land line would cost me for the same features. I understand that a large portion of the cost savings is realized because data passes over the public internet. I also realize that this means the service is unlikely to provide service that is equivalent (in terms of uptime quality) to a PSTN line. I'm extremely happy with the tradeoff. The service has been excellent so far.

Why even a regular line for Tivo? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13129177)

You can have Tivo even dial out over your VOIP line. It is actually very simple to have your entire home's wiring talk over the single VOIP device. Go in your basement and disconnect the incoming phone line that connects into your home network (its your standard phone plug), and just wire the VOIP device right into one of the wall jacks. You can connect a Tivo to any of the other jacks and you are in business. With 3500 sq ft home I had to use a line amplifier, but that was the only time.

Power outages? (1)

Aeron65432 (805385) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129192)

What about thunderstorms when the power goes out?

One of the reasons I have not wanted to switch to VoIP (other than the 911 deal) is because if the power goes out, so does your VoIP phone. Landline phones keep on working during power outages because of the nature of their setup.

Combining the two, what if you had an assailant break into your house during a power outage?

It's not the VOIP providers.. (1)

riflemann (190895) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129203)

The problem with reliability and quality with VOIP is generally not the fault of the VOIP providers.

Rather, it's caused by the fact that the traffic goes over the public internet. This has zero Quality of Service, meaning that they have to 'join the queue' with normal data packets. Any congestion as a result of things like Bittorrent and Kazza will kill the connection.

If there is any hope in hell of VOIP actually working as good as the PSTN, something has to be done about this limitation. Some broadband providers are starting to provide VOIP themselves, and their ability to control the quality end-to-end will help.

Unfortunately a lot of the people building and running these networks are IP guys, not telco guys, so uptime is still an issue.

But despite these issues...it's a young technology. It has it's place now in the right environments, but will still be a while before it's a true PSTN replacement.

Re:It's not the VOIP providers.. (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129290)

Yeah, but they are building into the network that VoIP gets priority over all other data connections, right. So, quality should become as high as anyone can make it without giving a dedicated line for the phones, which is basically what we have now.

In response to several posts... (1)

RecoveredMarketroid (569802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129228)

I recently switched to a VoIP provider. The cost is about 1/3 of what a land line would cost me for the same features. I understand that a large portion of the cost savings is realized because data passes over the public internet. I also realize that this means the service is unlikely to provide service that is equivalent (in terms of uptime quality) to a PSTN line. I'm extremely happy with the tradeoff. The service has been excellent so far.

I plan to use the savings to get a cell phone which I would not otherwise have. In addition to the added benefit of mobile communication, it will cover me during the .6% downtime that I'm likely to encounter with my VoIP service...

Have to Compare to Cell Phones (Not Land Lines) (2, Insightful)

Salis (52373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129248)

A lot of people have already lost their land line and are now using just cell phones. Service on cell phones is certainly not 99.99999%, nor even 94.8% (my guess). But people still use them vs. a land line.

So, when you're comparing service availabity, cost, and features, you need to include cell phones as the dominant competitor.

Really, your grandma won't be switching to VOIP. If anyone, it'll be people who already have a cell phone and want a cheap long-distance service as their land line. If they need to call 911, they'll be using their cell.

-Howard

Near-whoring (2, Insightful)

DeadVulcan (182139) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129289)

So many people shrieking, "99.4% sucks!!" It seems almost like karma whoring. Yeah, yeah. It sucks. So don't buy it. Can we move on?

It depends on how the outages occur, doesn't it? If it means you occasionally need to redial, that's not a big deal at all. But if it means you might be without service for a whole day every few months, then that's terrible. There's a few subscribers who have piped up here with generally positive comments. Me, I can't say from personal experience.

But to put it in perspective, in many places outside of first-world countries, I suspect 99.4% would be better reliability than you can get with any kind of service.

Great for Online support (0, Flamebait)

let1 (645804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129297)

Your call is important to us .. your wait time is now 10 minutes ... 5 minutes ... ...3 minutes... ...10 seconds... click .. hello.. hello .. hello...curse you VONAGE!!!!!

I have AT&Ts CallVantage (2, Informative)

tolkienfan (892463) | more than 8 years ago | (#13129310)

It was a pain to set up, but mostly due to a combination of me wanting to use a firewall with NAT and the Cable provider refusing to allow another MAC address to see the internet.

Once I got it set up, though, it's been great.

The audio quality can drop slightly when there's a lot of traffic, but it's rare that the volume get's that high.
I'd like to monitor the actual bandwidth calls take.

And I've had excellent up-time.

I haven't tried 911. I'd probably do it from my cell phone anyway - I tend to use it more than the VOIP line.

FYI for anyone having trouble setting up the Telephone Adapter (TA). If the IP address given to the TA when it boots is a non-internet routable number (10.x.x.x or 192.168.x.x for example) it could be that your internet provider is refusing to give out another IP address for the new MAC address.
You can get around this on many devices by going into the settings (try user/pass of admin/admin or blank/admin) and mimicking the MAC address of the previously-connected device (ie the computer or the firewall - whatever is plugged into the cable-modem).

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