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The Internet Technology

VoIP Questioned 375

Posted by Hemos
from the of-course-it-has-problems dept.
87C751 writes "C|Net is carrying a very FUDdy story on the downside of VoIP telephony. Alongside the reasonable point of 911 dialing being unavailable during service and power outages, the writeup mentions broadband over power lines as a possible solution to the power failure problem. (talk about your cognitive dissonance!) It also notes that VoIP customers may not be listed in the local phone book, causing problems with "major fast food companies" (do they mean pizza deliveries?), and that Tivo requires a POTS line for initial setup (which sounds like Tivo's problem, not VoIP's)."
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VoIP Questioned

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  • Series2 Tivo (Score:2, Informative)

    by StormRider01 (231428)
    huh, my Series2 Tivo setup just fine over my broadband connection...
  • by mbottrell (702614) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:28AM (#9738223)
    Seems VoIP is still in it's infancy...

    I'll be waiting for it to move out of Gen-1 status to the Gen-2 or Gen-3 devices.

    What amazes me is the lack of talk regarding the security of these devices...
    • by tdemark (512406) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:38AM (#9738367) Homepage
      What amazes me is the lack of talk regarding the security of these devices

      Yeah, because the security of cell phones and cordless phones is so rock solid.

      Almost nobody cares that anyone can eavesdrop on their cell and cordless conversations. Why should they care any different about their VOIP ones?

      - Tony
      • No, I'm referring more to the fact your phone now sits on a network, and in theory is able to be hacked.

        Who will pay for the 10,000 calls ya phone racks up from 2am-6am every morning when you sleep due to the trojan/worm it's infected with.

        Sure it ain't gunna be ya VoIP provider!
      • by lcsjk (143581) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:45AM (#9738433)
        Yesterday, my daughter told me that she was having trouble hearing me because her next door neighbor's phone conversation was too loud. She even recognized the voice! Don't think for a minute that no one can hear. Even if you are on a wire connection, the other end may not be.
        • Yesterday, my daughter told me that she was having trouble hearing me because her next door neighbor's phone conversation was too loud. She even recognized the voice! Don't think for a minute that no one can hear. Even if you are on a wire connection, the other end may not be.

          The ramifications go far. Lawyers can't legally demand attorney-client privilege for any information discussed over cell or cordless phones. I wonder what, if any, further legal statutes are needed?

      • Almost nobody cares that anyone can eavesdrop on their cell and cordless conversations. Why should they care any different about their VOIP ones?

        Cordless phones and analog cell phones sure -- care to tell me how to eavesdrop on a digital (CDMA/TDMA/iDEN/GSM/etc) conversation using John Q. Public equipment?

        • by YetAnotherDave (159442) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:57AM (#9738583)
          >> care to tell me how to eavesdrop on a digital

          sure. right after you let me know how you're planning on intercepting my SRTP-protected VoIP calls...

          True, VoIP security is just beginning to see the light of day, but since we're building on a good base of existing network-security tools it will ramp up fast.

          SRTP rfc: http://zvon.org/tmRFC/RFC3711/Output/index.html
        • Almost nobody cares that anyone can eavesdrop on their cell and cordless conversations. Why should they care any different about their VOIP ones?

          Cordless phones and analog cell phones sure -- care to tell me how to eavesdrop on a digital (CDMA/TDMA/iDEN/GSM/etc) conversation using John Q. Public equipment?


          There have been reports (for ages) of $10K suitcases that can eavesdrop on GSM conversations. I imagine the price would have gone down considerably. After all, all you need is a hacked-up phone that ca
  • Other DVRs work (Score:5, Informative)

    by SoCalChris (573049) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:29AM (#9738234) Journal
    Tivo may not work, but Dish Network's DVR does. I moved this weekend, and had Dish Network set up. I already had an internet connection, so when the dish installers asked for a phone line, I quickly unpacked my Vonage box, plugged it in and let it initialize, then plugged the DVR into it. It's working without any troubles now.

    With that said, I love using Vonage, and hope I never have to deal with Verizon or SBC again.
  • What a crock of... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by avalys (221114) * on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:30AM (#9738244)
    This is a joke, right?

    All the problems he mentions would certainly be valid points, but only if you're dumb enough to completely replace your phone system with VoIP!

    I have VoIP, but I kept one of my POTS lines when I switched. Without long distance service, it costs me a miniscule amount per month, and I can still use it for my TiVo, alarm system, 911, and so on. Everything he brings up is such a non-issue, it's almost funny.

    The only valid point he has is that it's difficult to get yourself listed in the phone book, but that's not a technical issue and should be resolved shortly.
    • by tuxlove (316502) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:35AM (#9738321)
      The only valid point he has is that it's difficult to get yourself listed in the phone book, but that's not a technical issue and should be resolved shortly.

      I don't even see that as a problem. I don't want my phone to be listed. My Vonage phone never rings unless it's someone I have given my number to!
      • by FreeUser (11483) on Monday July 19, 2004 @11:13AM (#9738726)
        I don't even see that as a problem. I don't want my phone to be listed. My Vonage phone never rings unless it's someone I have given my number to!

        Exactly. People pay good money to have their phone number unlisted. This isn't a bug with voip, this is a feature, and an excellent one at that.
    • by ZeroGee (796304) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:36AM (#9738331)
      All the problems he mentions would certainly be valid points, but only if you're dumb enough to completely replace your phone system with VoIP!

      But that's exactly what VoIP SHOULD be -- a replacement for standard land-line telephony. Why should we settle (and adopt!) a system that requires you to keep, even at small cost, another phone system that goes through the traditional switching network in order to be able to use alarms, 911, etc.? Instead, VoIP should be improved where it can do everything the telephone system can do, and then we can do away with that antiquated network and use broadband everywhere.
      • So we need to update the infrastructure so that it totally supports VoIP. Is there a really good reason why VoIP numbers have trouble getting into phone books? Is it an inate problem with the technology, or is it simply the phone book technologies getting stuck in a rut?
      • Of course, as soon as VoIP replaces POTS, you can guarantee that the price advantage will also be eliminated.
    • I would actually LIKE to not be listed. Currently the teco charges a few bucks each month to retain unlisted service. This doesn't seem to screw up any of the local pizza delivery services, either.
    • by jallison (693397)
      The article is truly awful. Lots of generalities, no specifics. You get things like "a VoIP phone number won't likely be included in most phone directories" and "Protecting your home could get tougher, as well. Some home alarm systems have trouble ..." (emphasis mine). Then there's the Tivo misinformation that others have already commented on.

      This is just poor journalism. Of the complaints raised the 911 issue is the most legitimate due to the lack of location specifics when you dial 911 from a cell p

    • I have almost completely replaced my phone system with VoIP. I say almost as I have DSL for my broadband and therefore need an actual line. All my voice is over the Vonage system even 911.

      • 911

        I register my location with Vonage for 911 service

      • Power outages

        I plug my equipment into a UPS. For last resort I can use the van and inverters as a crude generator

      • Tivo

        Well since I'm using DSL I do have to pay for an actual phone line. Tivo gets its own line for whatever it wants to do.

      • Phonebook listing

        I was un

  • by BMonger (68213) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:30AM (#9738251)
    The Tivo series 2 units *do not* require a phone line for initial setup. It said (or possibly still says this) on the Tivo web site but you can easily find information to set it up via broadband. I know it doesn't because I set mine up without a phone line as all I have is my cell phone.
    • **repeat post** logged in this time

      I bought a 40hr Series 2 refurb (only 100 bucks) probably 4 or 5 months ago from Tivo.com. I paid the extra 30 bucks for the Linksys USB ethernet adapter. I get the unit, set it up, and it says to plug in the phone line. Like many people, I don't have a phone line, which is why I bought the network adapter. I call Tivo support and they told me that units were still shipping with old software on them. They didn't really see a problem in selling me a network adapter and a T
    • When one of my friends was having phone problems, she came over to my place, set up the box, and then took it back home.

      Just because it needs a phone line, doesn't mean it needs your phone line -- as well as I know, these things aren't tied to your phone like satellite dishes are (if you want to order pay-per-view on 'em)
  • by Scoria (264473) <slashmail.initialized@org> on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:30AM (#9738252) Homepage
    It also notes that VoIP customers may not be listed in the local phone book, causing problems with "major fast food companies"

    That's horrible! Are you implying that some telemarketers won't be capable of easily obtaining my telephone number, and the local telephone company won't be capable of charging me to opt-out of the directory?

    What a shame! ;-)
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:30AM (#9738255) Homepage Journal
    Well, I guess that solves the problem of your internet connection being up while your power is down. I don't think it's going to help you much, though. I have an alternate solution, and it's called a UPS. Of course, if your ISP doesn't have their equipment on a battery backup, then you're screwed. Mediacom in Lake County, CA seems to have a very short-life battery backup on some of their hardware, because their network would actually go down before my UPS ran out (only a 650VA, and I had a 19" monitor at the time, plus an Athlon Tbird 1.4GHz) when the power failed, which is a common occurrence there.
  • by webword (82711) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:30AM (#9738256) Homepage
    Any new technology will face the exact same *kind* of issues. Users won't like it because of x, y, or z. The real issue isn't the technology itself but how well the businesses manage it, promote it, and so forth. Similarly, if usability doesn't improve, the issues in the article will become quite real and slow (or stop) any real progress in the market, and that would be the real crime.
  • by netwiz (33291) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:31AM (#9738258) Homepage
    Wow. that article is a total clusterfsck...

    Broadband over power is dead due to FCC restriction...

    TiVos can use an ethernet link and DHCP to get their updates... And besides, they make VoIP phone adapters...

    And who wants their home number in a book anyway? I've forgone the "unlisted number" charge, and as a result received more phone spam than god ever knew...

    Kinda makes me wonder who's pushing them to get this published on the website. Apparently noone interested in facts, or logic...
  • 911 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jaavaaguru (261551) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:31AM (#9738260) Homepage
    If I needed to dial 911, I'd use my mobile phone rather than the POTS/VoIP one, because it's in my pocket all the time, I'd be able to get the call made faster. I don't see this being an issue for most people. Anyway, my POTS telephone system (BT XD500 DECT) requires mains power to operate. If my VoIP doesn't work, chances are my POTS phones isn't working either.
    • Re:911 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mqx (792882)
      "If my VoIP doesn't work, chances are my POTS phones isn't working either."

      Very wrong. Your VOIP can easily fail because of so many domestic conditions, while the telco easily continues to send you 48v + current in the local loop.

      "If I needed to dial 911, I'd use my mobile phone rather than the POTS/VoIP one, because it's in my pocket all the time, I'd be able to get the call made faster. I don't see this being an issue for most people."

      Wrong again: the penetration of mobile phones is woefully low, and a
      • Most people believe POTS goes down due to power failures from experience, mostly because of cordless phones, fax machines, and combo phone/answering machines that require a seperate power source to operate. I have an old Western Electric rotary plugged in for those occasions.
    • by gilroy (155262)
      Blockquoth the poster:

      if I needed to dial 911, I'd use my mobile phone rather than the POTS/VoIP one, because it's in my pocket all the time, I'd be able to get the call made faster.

      Unless you need to dial 911 due to a general local emergency (earthquake, flooding, etc), becuase the cells rapidly get overwhelmed by the number of calls. The attacks on NYC and the Pentagon brought that out in sharp relief: The cell phone system in Manhattan basically shut down from the flood of calls and so on.

      It's not

    • Re:911 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BonrHanzon (411856)
      I guess you weren't on the east coast of the US during the blackout last August. Most cell phones didn't work - probably due to overload. But POTS worked (at least in NJ), but not if you had only cordless phones. God help anyone who had an actual emergency during the blackout.
    • 911 operators have no way of tracing where you are calling from if you use your cell phone. On the other hand, if you dial 911 on your POTS line and drop the receiver because a bad guy is chasing you around the house, the operators must send the police to your house... and they know exactly where your call is coming from.
  • by Otto (17870) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:31AM (#9738261) Homepage Journal
    If you get one of the newer boxes, plug a USB network dongle into the back of the thing, hook it up to your LAN, and use the proper codes and config and such, it can do the initial setup via the network. It's not obvious via the menus and such, I grant you, but it can be done.

    Which is anyway beside the point, as a lot of the VoIP services have boxes available that you can plug a POTS phone into, some of which can handle modem traffic just fine.
  • I'm hoping Tivo does away with the phone requirement when they come out with their HD units. It's asinine to rely on landlines when so many people are moving to exclusively mobile phone + broadband internet. Seems like they're spiting the demographic most likely to buy their new products.

    I considered voip earlier this year, for an outbound connection for an alarm system dialer. There don't seem to be any "per-minute" type voip plans though where you only pay for use. Nor do there seem to be "outbound o
    • TiVo did away with the phone line requirement a LONG time ago. I've had my TiVo for nearly 2 years and I've never had a land line. You can plug a USB network adaptor into the TiVo and use your broadband connection for updates. Official support for that was added about a year ago, but before that all you had to do was enter a certain code (,#401 or something) into the dialing prefix field during setup and it would use DHCP to get an IP and simply connect that way.
  • by slash-tard (689130) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:31AM (#9738269)
    or they wouldnt deliver to me. They wouldnt deliver to me even if I offered to prepay with a credit card.

    Other pizza places dont have a problem with placing an order through a cell phone.

    Of course this ignorant policy cost them a customer.

    I imagine a VOIP line would cause even more problems.
    • by sporkboy (22212) <maddog AT jerky DOT net> on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:33AM (#9738296) Homepage
      Strange, I have a cellphone and they deliver to me all the time. In fact, I ordered from a friend's house in a different area code using my cellphone and they had my name on record (printed on the label) and no problems. Sounds like you got a bad-egg Dominos.
    • Who orders pizza via phone anymore? I always order Papa Johns online... :) Get with the times!
    • land line vs other (Score:3, Informative)

      by cuteintern (643644)
      Only a couple years ago this was the policy because cell phones weren't very common, nobody (statistically speaking) had cut the cord and it was really about security- being able to put a phone number with a physical place.

      This has changed over the last couple years as cell phones saturated the population. They are now too common to refuse the business.

      As long as the store adheres to security policy, there really shouldn't be a problem. Just leave your phone on so they can make a security call-back befor
  • VoIP (Score:3, Informative)

    by jamis (16403) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:33AM (#9738286) Homepage
    The only issue I had with my VoIP (Vonage) service was yesterday with a disconnected call to my cable company about intermittent dropped cable modems connections.

    I realized what happened and whipped out the cell phone.

    As for the other points -

    1. I'd rather not be listed.

    2. I've had no problems with fast food delivery.

    3. ReplayTV uses a broadband connection.

    4. I have a UPS for the VoIP box, cable modem, router, cordless phone base-station. As long as the power outtage doesn't effect the cable company, I'm all set.

    5. 911 - Between what Vonage DOES offer for 911 service, 2 cell phones (mine and my wife's), and close proximity to neighbors (townhouse)... I feel safe enough.
  • I've never been a big fan of the VoIP. Seems like a solution in search of a problem to me. I understand with large companies out there that run thousands of lines out a building, but for residential use, it just doesn't make sense. Am I missing something? My boss asked me if we should implement a VoIP solution for our (15-person) company, and my reaction has always been why? We already get dirt cheap (practically free) unlimited long distance, local calls, plus we have an analog phone switch that works fin
  • Tivo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silas_moeckel (234313) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:33AM (#9738298) Homepage
    Funny I just setup my brand new DirecTV HD Tivo via a vonage line. No special codes, no special hardware (just what Vonage sent me a Cisco ATA) no fax line option. Realy what it is is persistances I probably redialed 20 times before it worked. My Googling for help led me down all sorts of roads with prefixes even plugging it into my fax line via vonage.

    What it seems to come down to is packet loss I've been told that Packet loss is what kills modem connections over VoIP and that Vonage can alter your packet size to help compensate. I was trying late afternoon and had issues my Tivo has since automaticaly dialed up and is fine on Vonage probably due to the low packet loss in the early morning. I didnt even have to call vonage. It dosent work well but it does work.

  • If my Nortel phone can't tell that it is plugged into a Motorola VOIP modem rather than a plug in the wall, how does a TIVO know?

    Is this really a problem or simply conjecture?

    • If my Nortel phone can't tell that it is plugged into a Motorola VOIP modem rather than a plug in the wall, how does a TIVO know?

      Possibly the VOIP codec would make the modem signals unusable?
  • by tgd (2822) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:34AM (#9738307)
    I've owned four Tivos over the years and only once did I have to use a phone line for the initial setup, my very first Tivo back when there was no network support on them.

  • emergencies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mqx (792882) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:35AM (#9738314)

    Your 48v (?) POTS line continues to provide current during emergency because the telco has backup power supply: there's virtually no complexity on the user side (the phone is powered from the line, and analogue phones are dead simple and largely robust electromechanical device).

    On the other hand, even if your telco can keep PPP up during an emergency, and even if the telco pulled out 911 VOIP at the exchange and routed it on high availability circuits to operators to minimise internetworking failures, you still have the horrendous problem at the user side: i.e. complex customer home equipment that runs off domestic power that has large number of failure modes.

    Even mobiles are better in an emergency (i.e. handsets have portable power, and the basestation and infrastructure has emergency power + failover features).

    So even if you get QoS and all other other things in place to make VOIP really work: how the hell are you going to ensure high availability?

    Otherwise, VOIP is going to great for multimedia conferencing and everything else.

  • Also (Score:2, Insightful)

    by swordboy (472941)
    And what about voice spam?

    Your VoIP phone is sitting right there for any spammer to call. Now, there is no cost "barrier" for them to call you from outside the country. Now, most slashdotters will respond that they are l33t enough to create a whitelist-only calling system but the average Joe generally isn't offered this luxury and wouldn't be technical enough to understand how to implement it.

    VoIP will become a new conduit for spam.
    • VoIP will become a new conduit for spam.

      It'll be a conduit for telemarketing as traditional telphony is at the moment - but I think it's unlikely to be used for spam.

      Don't forget that email is generally sent free of charge by an ISP - with VoIP, there will need to be service providers who will, no doubt, levy a (small) charge for each call made. That alone should deter spammers.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:35AM (#9738322)
    1. With the introduction of SIP technology, the ability to create "phonebooks" is just a natural extension - after all, if a central server knows where you are registered to and what IP telephony capabilities you have, integrating that into a centrallised on-line database should not be too difficult.

    2. If the VoIP world goes the way of SIP then for it to truly work will require SIP service providers so that you can connect transparently to VoIP networks from any point in the world. Presumably there will be a charge for this service from those providers who will, in turn record customer account detailes and "numbers" no differently to the way traditional PSTN service providers do.

    3. Even though there is no centralised email database, this does not stop someone who I want to email me (as well as others who I don't want to email me!) from getting in contact simply by handing out my email address to the appropriate people.

  • do power over ethernet [poweroverethernet.com], then it can be just line a standard phone line and no worries about power outages.
  • A lot of these problems are also applicable or alleviated with a cell phone. I don't have a land line, (well, one for DSL, but no phone #), and the papa johns can still find me.

  • Given the local telephone monopolies.

    As regulated monopolies, they're quick to point out any of the restrictions under which they must operate and want to insure that any newcomers to the market be equally or more burdened.

    Roads are publicly owned and maintained; why not public information corridors, too?

  • by The Importance of (529734) * on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:39AM (#9738375) Homepage
    One of the problems that VoIP doesn't have right now, but will if the INDUCE Act passes is getting Hollywood's approval for innovative new services: Hatch's Hit List #7 - VoIP [corante.com]
  • Not that FUD-dy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:39AM (#9738380) Journal
    All of the concerns listed are legitimate, and have kept me from considering replacing my land line.

    Here in Maryland, hurricane Isabel knocked out our power for a week last summer. Land line phones still worked, so we could call around to our friends and family, find someone who still has juice, head over and ride out the storm. With VOIP, our options would be drive around the state aimlessly, or hunt down a payphone, etc.. Forget that. And if the storm had of hit us hard, knocked a tree into our kitchen or something, I'm sorry, but 911 service is not a small, inconsequential feature that VOIP-zealots make it out to be.

    The fast food delivery problem is less severe, but still there. Many pizza joints wouldnt even send a car out if they couldnt verify the address. They've been jerked around by cranks too many times. I've had friends with unlisted numbers or who were blocking caller-id have pizza joints hang up on 'em.

    It's a nice idea, but one whos time hasn't come yet. At least not as the primary phone for my residence. Not until my connection to the 'net has the same level of reliability as my land-line.
    • Re:Not that FUD-dy. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gerardrj (207690)
      I'm sorry, but 911 service is not a small, inconsequential feature that VOIP-zealots make it out to be.

      But you apparently didn't call 911 during the hurricane. When was the last time you called 911 for a true emergency: "endangered life or crime in progress"? If you're like the majority of people... never or a long time ago.

      Calling 911 doesn't stop a person from dying and it doesn't stop a crime in progress and it doesn't bring help any faster: it will still take 5 to 15 minutes for responders to arrive
      • Re:Not that FUD-dy. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Detritus (11846) on Monday July 19, 2004 @12:21PM (#9739326) Homepage
        It should cost $100 to call 911, billed directly on the phone bill. If your call turns out to be an emergency your fee is refunded. If not, then you just paid for your stupidity.

        In many communities, there is no non-emergency number for police/fire dispatch. If you call the local station, they will tell you to call 911, because they have centralized all of their assets in the 911 operations center.

        Some communities have added a three digit number (311) for non-emergencies. See here [911dispatch.com] for more information.

      • But you apparently didn't call 911 during the hurricane. When was the last time you called 911 for a true emergency: "endangered life or crime in progress"? If you're like the majority of people... never or a long time ago

        I think the 911 people had a clue the hurricane was in the area already. If something had happened to his house, then he could have called 911.

        Calling 911 doesn't stop a person from dying

        Doesn't it, though? If there is an accident and you are losing blood, a transfusion within 5-15 m

  • by johnhennessy (94737) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:41AM (#9738402)
    ... now children, give me a 2000 word essay on VoIP.

    I'd imagine that the bulk of kids these days would probably research the subject matter slightly better.

    This writer clearly has NO IDEA on what he is talking about. Lets see if we can refute everything he says:

    "TiVo, the digital video recording service, for example, requires a standard home phone line to complete the initial setup. Otherwise, you "can't get TiVo,"

    I'm sure TiVo would be absolutely thrilled to use broadband for completing the setup. Just think of all the money they spend on 1800 calls for people to finish the setup. I'm sure they'd also be pretty happy to get viewer stats more or less in real time.

    "That could lead to trouble dealing with businesses such as banks and major fast food companies that often check local phone listings to verify addresses."

    How is this different from not being listed ? Why not raise the point that AT&T / Vonage need to provide a reliable database rather than spreading this line of "Fear".

    "Some home alarm systems have trouble with broadband connections, or their manufacturers don't yet trust the reliability of the Internet."

    The "some" being the companies that are too lazy to use more modern methods for monitoring.

    "During a power outage, a VoIP phone is only as good as any battery backups on hand, because delivering power through the broadband connection isn't possible on a wide commercial basis. An emerging alternative broadband-delivery technique, broadband over power line, will solve this problem, but wide deployment is years away."

    Where do I begin. Complete rubbish. Author probably read an article about it last month, so feels like he has to include it this month, just to get one back on New Scientist.

    From here on in the article, we get a "dump" of interesting facts and other pieces of information that seem to completely go against what the author has just said.

    Complete FUD. I wonder who's paying for the article.

  • by randyest (589159)
    That could lead to trouble dealing with businesses such as banks and major fast food companies that often check local phone listings to verify addresses.

    Really? I haven't had a landline in almost 2 years (wifey and I use cellphones) and I've never had a problem getting any food delivered or banking.

    My cellphone number isn't listed. I don't see why this is any different than the situation with VoIP service. The other "drawbacks" seem FUDdy too: my town 911 service uses my cellphones GPS to find me i
  • ...and its great. I talk with our developers that are all over the world for nothing. Its also nice because I am a 20 hour drive from the office so I dont have to go in to answer my phone calls. The Asterisk voicemail system even emails me a wav file with Voice Mail in case I am not looking at the phone.

    These articals are just FUD.
  • There's a downside and an upside to everything...for me its a real simple cost issue. It would cost me at least 3x more per month on my phone bill (if not more) with a regular PTSN line than my VoIP connection...AND of course I can take my number with me wherever I go...try that with a regular phone line C|Net FUD mongers!!
  • Out here in SBC territory where I live (former Pacific Bell), many of the switches have provisions where if the line is disconnected, there is still a dial tone. This allows the user of this line to dial toll free numbers and 911.

    Now, we won't go into how you can use a prepaid card to call your friends on this, because this sentence explains it. (BTW, it has a phone number that can be called and rung - or at least mine did in 1998-1999.) But, note I mentioned you can call 911 if you have a dialtone on

  • causing problems with "major fast food companies" (do they mean pizza deliveries?)

    There are times when I refuse to be a demographic. Pizza Hut has not had problems when I call in an order and tell them no, they cannot have my phone number. Dominoes, however, refused to take my order even though I was going to pick it up because they don't deliver to my neighborhood. The drone on the phone not only didn't understand why I wasn't going to give him my unlisted phone number, he was surprisingly rude about
  • by DaHat (247651)
    Since when is it FUD to look at the potential downsides of a given issue or technology?

    If one only looks at the benefits with out being aware of potential costs or flaws, one sets themselves up for ultimate failure due to ignorance and blindness.
  • I'm sure similar articles were written when the telephone supplanted the telegraph. "How will people communicate reliably! Voice can be misunderstood! Think of the morse code transcribers!" The technology will adapt, and those who adapt with it will stand to reap the rewards. Those who don't can graciously bow out of the next act of the play.

    I've seen better forward-looking statements from a Magic 8-ball than from this article. Of course there will be growing pains, but it's not the fault of the technology

  • ...will my 300 baud acustic modem still work over VOIP?

    -

  • Interogater: Where were you during the night of the 35th to 36th last month?

    VoiP: Uuuuuhmmm....

    SCNR
    • Interogater: Where were you during the night of the 35th to 36th last month?

      The 35th or 36th of *which* month?

      Where is this interrogation taking place? Mars?

  • And the inability to predict them are why they will be problems. Foreseeable problems, with VoiP as with any other endeavour, are just that. You know the problem exists, and solutions and / or workarounds will be discovered in turn. But until you end up trying to implement this on a wide scale, you simply will not know what the problems will ultimately be.

    END COMMUNICATION
  • by jgman (136006) on Monday July 19, 2004 @10:56AM (#9738570)
    I have been using my GSM standard digital phone exclusively for 4 years. I have dealt with most everything listed in this article. None of those things are of concern to me. While I can't help but wonder why TIVO needs a standard phone line to set up, thats TIVO's fault. If I really want, I'll just slap a TV Card into my computer, problem solved, one less sale for a company with an idiotic policy. And for that matter, like most Americans, I could probably do with watching less TV.

    I used to have problems with some companies not accepting that I did not have a land line (Video Rentals, etc...), but have found in the last couple years as it has become increasingly common for people to drop their land lines, that companies have adjusted. For that matter, I always figure if they can't accept I don't have a land line, they can do without my business, that is capitalism after all. Those compnaies that adjust to the new world of cell phones and VOIP will survive, those that do not, won't. I for one have never had a problem going elsewhere if a video store or pizza parlor is so backwards as to not want my business over a telephone number. I'm usually all too ready to drop a polite note to that companies management explaining why they lost a customer. But again, It has been at least 3 years since I ran into any problem like that. As for not being in the phone book, I find that to be a definite plus. As I am on a "cell" phone, I almost never get telephone solicitations. Those rare times I do, all I have to ask is if they are aware they are calling a cell phone. At that point the solicitor profusely apologizes and asks if there is a better number to reach me at, to which I gladly respond, no.

  • 30 seconds with google reveals that he's very much against VOIP, and very much a supporter of the phone industry.
    God I love the internet - every opinion you've ever had displayed for the world to take out of context forever...
  • "...The Bell operating companies, comprised of Verizon, Qwest Communications International, SBC and BellSouth, prefer to wait until they build high-speed fiber-optic connections to homes for their all-out VoIP launches."

    Uh-huh... we'll all have telepathic brain implants by the time this happens.

  • I think that laws regarding telephone systems and 911 often say that 911 systems must be on communication systems with nines 9's of uptime 99.999%. . . at least this was the original intent.

    VoIP doesn't meet this criteria, thus laws may need to be modified to account for this.

    Additionally, I don't understand the 911 hub-bub anyway . . . cell phones didn't have 911 for years . . . even while people were replacing their POTS with a cellphone in the house

  • by DeadSea (69598) * on Monday July 19, 2004 @11:04AM (#9738658) Homepage Journal
    I recently moved to a new town. I made an appointment with Comcast to install the works: broadband, cable, phone.

    The guy came, and my internet and cable were fine. But I forgot to check for a dialtone before he left. It (of course) didn't work. Turns out they don't offer phone service in my area but hadn't informed me of the fact, or the fact they had cancelled my order for it. Anyway, no phone line and I'm sitting here with my TiVo 2.

    Ok, no problem, I'll go get a wireless card and hook it up to my network. Done. No problem. Its downloading guides but it still thinks I live in the next town and the guide is the wrong one.

    Ok, no problem, I call my friend who work for TiVo. He says I need to do a system reset. A system reset to change my service? A system reset.

    Ok, no problem, I do a system reset. It starts asking me for my dialing options. Crap, it was just on the internet. Why is it asking for this now? I can't get it to work. I call up my friend at TiVo and he says they do the initial TiVo setup over the internet all the time with the latest firmware version (and I should have that version). However, they use wired ethernet. It might make a difference. He then told me that he was tired of answering my stupid questions and if I had any more I should read the bloody TiVo forums.

    Problem - the forums say I'm screwed. My options are to buy ay wired usb etheret for my TiVo, or go door to with my TiVo under my arm and find a neighbor who will take pity on me. I don't know the neighbors. Crap.

    So an hour later I'm in the living room of the 80 year old woman next door. I hook my TiVo into her VCR and spend about half an hour trying to figure out how to get the picture through. Turns out it needs a tape in the VCR. Ok. Picture. Great. Just plug it into the phone and we're good to go. But wait. No jack. Crap. Her phone is 50 years old and hard wired into the house.

    An hour later I'm at some other neighbors with my TiVo, and my own VCR trying to fend off their cat, while my TiVo goes through its hour of setup. Whew. Finally.

    I get it home and it works with my wireless network. Great.

    Still have to get a phone though. Maybe VoIP is right for me? I find 1TouchTone.com and order it. $15 a month. Not bad. It comes, I plug the box into my router, and the phone into the box. It works! I go rip the phone companies wires off the outside of my house, and plug the phone box into a nearby phone jack. All the phones in my house get dial tone. Sweet.

    I've really gotten addicted to the voicemail features. I get emails saying that I have a new voicemail. I get SMS saying I have new voicemail. The light on my phone blinks saying I have new voicemail. The email has an attachment with the wav file of my voicemail.

    Comcast hasn't complained - yet.

  • I've been a Vonage subscriber for 6 months now. A few notes:

    1. I hooked my vonage unit into the core wiring of my house (unplugged the qwest line, and plugged vonage in there instead). This makes it so that my phone infrastructure inside my house remains unchanged. My wife wouldn't even know we didn't have a standard POTS line if I hadn't told her. All of the phone jacks in the house work as one would expect them to. (I even take advantage of the multiple phone-line support provided by the Vonage unit -- t
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp&gmail,com> on Monday July 19, 2004 @11:07AM (#9738680) Homepage
    I think that given the commentary, maybe a better headline for this would be "VOIP questioning questioned".
  • It also notes that VoIP customers may not be listed in the local phone book, causing problems with "major fast food companies" (do they mean pizza deliveries?), That's a luddite comment if I've ever heard one . . . I've ordered pizza/fast food via email before without any phone numbers/phone calls entering into the equation. To imply that pizza delivery places can't or will have difficulty adapting to VoIP is naive at best . . . (Note I'm not knocking the original topic poster that I quoted from, but rat
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Monday July 19, 2004 @11:17AM (#9738756) Homepage
    1) The price of VoIP's thriftiness

    Sounds condescending to me, or designed to be scary, typical tag line to get you worked up over the topic. Passing judgement before the facts are presented.

    2) If you have a home alarm system, need to dial 911, use TiVo or simply want your phone number included in the phone book, you're likely to be out of luck.

    Home alarm system's and TiVo can change. TiVo is a simple non-essential piece of hardware which should change to accomodate such customers as VOIP catches on. Alarm systems will figure a way around this. Of course, if you feel you can expend money on an alarm system for your home, you can probably afford the current rates your phone company is charging. I'm not saying an alarm system is elitist... its just expensive.

    As for phone listing, well damnit who cares? I'll pick up my next pizza. Besides, you can keep your old listing in the phone book when you switch to Vonage and as VOIP catches on this will be taken care of.

    As for 911 dialing during power outages, the article willfully and obviously glosses over the possibility that people might have cell phones. This is what makes me feel this is FUDish, because, while the 911 issue is important, the article failed to cover this very important and obvious point. I believe they were afraid that the original alarmist tone of the article would have been defused because 911 dialing is important to everyone, while all those other points are only important to a select few.

    3) VoIP certainly has it's selling points--unlimited local and long-distance dialing plans that are about 30 percent cheaper than standard services, dialing from any broadband connection and being able to choose a phone number regardless of your location--the TiVo situation if just the tip of the drawback iceberg.

    First, try 50 percent, maybe more. Vonage has a plan for just $15 for 500 talk minutes, anywhere in the country. For local free calling and no special LD plans, Verizon charges me somewhere between $30 and $40.

    Second, what the hell is the last part of that paragraph? It seems so cryptic to me.

    4) Protecting your home could get tougher, as well. Some home alarm systems have trouble with broadband connections, or their manufacturers don't yet trust the reliability of the Internet.

    Back to this a second, this sentences reeks of FUD, because it says "protecting your home could get harder." Not all of us buy alarm systems... goodness! I can't protect my home without a phone? GASP!

    5) 911 calls over VoIP are usually routed through a third party, and there's been the occasional detour to an emergency call center in the wrong part of the country. Because of VoIP's mobility--subscribers can use any broadband connection anywhere--emergency operators won't automatically know where the person's calling from.

    Facts please? I've heard of no such "detours." Can we have some proof to back this up please? Even instances from the slashdot community would be nice.

    And yes, they do tout VOIP as being mobile, and yet 911 calls could be routed back home while you are on the road. However, this will be a learning point for early adopters, but future versions should handle this better. This is by design for the convenience of the customer.

    6) The Bell operating companies, comprised of Verizon, Qwest Communications International, SBC and BellSouth, prefer to wait until they build high-speed fiber-optic connections to homes for their all-out VoIP launches. The so-called fiber-to-the-premises initiatives, however, could take a decade or more to complete.

    Translation: They don't have the infrastructure yet and they don't want to kill their current phone business too fast

    7) Both Cox and Comcast are promising faster VoIP rollouts.

    Translation: they are counting on early adopters so that they can eat the baby bells' lunches.

    8) Despite its drawbacks, VoIP is attractin
  • by hirschma (187820) on Monday July 19, 2004 @11:45AM (#9739016)
    I have Vonage for home, Voicepulse for business. They both work mostly well, but both have big issues:

    1. Faxing - simply not reliable in general, forget about fax modems.

    2. The directory listings issue is definitely just that - I almost couldn't open a bank account for my business because of it, and then was initially rejected for a company credit card.

    However, with proper documentation, both of these things were overcome.

    3. Online ordering? A _few_, thankfully not most, ecommerce outfits do a 'sanity check' on your phone number to see if it 'matches' your address.

    4. Regional info line: can't dial 311 in NYC, which is pretty kick ass. You can, however, put the 10-digit 'out of area' version in your speed-dial.

    5. Most of the services don't have in-code-7 digit dialing. Of course, we lost in that in NYC a while ago anyway for POTS.

    6. Orphaning. As your VOIP provider starts using the newest, greatest, most bandwidth efficient VOIP adapter for new subs, earlier adopters with older adapters won't get the same features, or even the same level of service. This is definitely an issue with Voicepulse, may they burn in hell.

    7. Roach motel portability - or no portability. You can port your phone# to vonage, but not out. You can't port your number to/from voicepulse.

    Jonathan

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