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Communications

New Study Finds VOIP is Getting Better 376 376

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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New Study Finds VOIP is Getting Better

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  • Take heed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigwavejas (678602) * on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:43PM (#13128887) Journal
    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 (Score:2, Informative)

      by linzeal (197905)
      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.
    • 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.
      • Thankfully, I've only called 911 twice in the past 10 years

        I wouldn't be too thankful--that's WAY above the average.
    • 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
      • Re:Take heed (Score:3, Interesting)

        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 (Score:4, Interesting)

          by squiggleslash (241428) * on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:48PM (#13129637) Homepage Journal
          This is why I keep one plugged in at all times, just in case. It's rarely used, but it's a tough - drop it from any reasonable height and it'll still work - phone with an actual bell. (The bell isn't a safety feature, I just thought I'd mention it because it's cool.)

          It's remarkable, in my view, how so many people do not do this. I understand the attraction of cordless phones, but these days you can have any number attached to one base station. With four or five outlets in the average home, one attached to the base station, one for your modem or DSL modem, and one other for your answerphone if you have one not integrated with your normal phone, you should have at least one more outlet available, and if you don't, a phone line splitter costs something in the region of $1.06 (yes, you can get them from the Dollar Store, where everything costs $1.06.)

          Worse still, I live in Florida. These people suffered a week without power last year, and twice in the space of a month. And how many people have unpowered corded phones? Hmmm? Take a guess.

          On a related note, a firefighter soon-to-be-relative happened to mention the whole issue with 911 and VoIP over the weekend to me. I've posted at length my concerns about VoIP and 911, so it was interesting hearing the same perspective from someone (a) who isn't a geek and (b) who actually is close enough to the wall to know how important 911 is.

      • My ISP, Cogeco, is offering VOIP with a modem that has an 8 hour battery backup. Definitely a nice feature.
      • Re:Take heed (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pyrrhonist (701154)
        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 (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bedroll (806612)
        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 cu

        • "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."

          I think the mandatory 9

      • 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.

        True but there is also a 19 in 20 chance that the second time around will work. Dialing 911 doesn't magically save your life, help still has to arrive. If hanging up and dialing a second time took too long, then you probably didn't have a chance of living to begin with.

        In addition this report doesn't say if this is 94.9% chance of i
    • 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.
    • 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 requirin
    • 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 ;)
    • by linuxwrangler (582055) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:02PM (#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!
      • The charts in the linked article didn't say the service was down 5.2%. What it says is call completion failed 5.2% of the time. You can't extrapolate the call completion to determine network availability.

        They made a call every 30 mins. If the the VOIP network was down for 20 mins it would still show one missed call. If it wasn't down but the call would have gone through if re-attempted 15 seconds later it would still show as one missed call.

        And for calls that that were made, what was the phone provide
    • 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
    • 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 b

    • Re:Take heed (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kesuki (321456)
      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'
      • I liked the fact that 4 nine's transformed themselves into 5 nine's in the middle of your equations. You can't do what you did, your proof is only valid for an infinite amount of digits, which is commonly written as 99.(9). In this new case, it amounts to proving that 1/3*3 = 1.

        Or is 10*99.99 = 999.99 in the place where you come from? ;)
    • 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 VOI

    • 99.99 (repeating) would be nice!

      I don't think anything is that reliable.
    • If you had mobile phones anyway, you can use them to make the emergency calls, and use VoIP for everything else.
  • by Whafro (193881)
    Meta: New Survey Finds No Surprising News Today
  • by swelke (252267) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:45PM (#13128908) Homepage Journal
    Ya' know, I was going to get VOIP, but then I realized that with my dialup internet connection, it might be kind of redundant.
  • 99.44% (Score:5, Funny)

    by mph (7675) <mph@freebsd.org> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:45PM (#13128916)
    I don't think 99.4% is very good either.
    Come on! That's near Ivory Soap levels of purity!
  • Loving VOIP here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SYFer (617415) <.ten.refys. .ta. .refys.> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:46PM (#13128921) Homepage
    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.
    • 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 c
  • No need for that... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DrEldarion (114072) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:46PM (#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?
    • 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.

      • 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.
  • 99.4% sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:47PM (#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.
    • Not to mention 94.8... which gives more than 1 and a half day of downtime!
    • my land line works 100% of the time.

      You've never had Bell South for a phone company have you?
    • 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.
    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:15PM (#13129303) Homepage
      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.
    • How reliable do you think land line phone service was when it had been generally available for as long as VoIP has been generally available? I bet it was less than 99.4%.
    • Classical telephone networks are designed with lost call probability 1/10000. That's over 99,99% reliability.

      But with VoIP there's a catch: we are unable to design reliable AND efficient network! With classical telephony we have some mathematical models (Erlang, Engstet and so on), usign which we can figure how many resources are needed.
      For VoIP - there are no usable models (yet). IP is almost impossible to mathematically predict - changing routes, variable packet length, jitter. It's just too hard. We ca
    • Re:99.4% sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DroopyStonx (683090)
      Sorry, even land lines are NEVER 100% guaranteed to be up.

      Phones go out just like anything else - electricity, cable, you name it.
  • 99.4%!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shkuey (609361)
    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.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:47PM (#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).

    • 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?
      • 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.
  • by ehaggis (879721) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:48PM (#13128961) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ffejie (779512) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:49PM (#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.



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

      Yeah, reliability has killed the cellphone market.

      I guess once cells are reliable, people will start using them.
    • One of the reasons you can keep normal phone lines so reliable is that they are very low function, in terms of what they do, and they equipment backing them up is very expensive.

      We got in to this fight with our voice guys on campus. We want to roll out VoIP because of the additonal features it offers, and with our network we probably could offer 3 or 4 9s. They always argued how reliable their phone switch is, which is true it's never been down. However consider that we paid $5million just to UPGRADE the d
  • by pyrrhonist (701154) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:49PM (#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?"

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

  • by Zebra_X (13249) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:50PM (#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.
  • 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...
    • 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.

      Of course you had a dialtone, because with VoIP it's generated by the phone.

      Try dialing out and count how many times you get the reorder tone.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:52PM (#13129022) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • > With VoIP you get:

      Every single "feature" that the baby bells charge extra for. Verizon was charging me $6.50/month for CallerID (w/names would cost $7.50).

      I can check voicemail online. I can take my "home" phone with me on travel (including overseas).

      I was paying Verizon $30/month for a phone with nothing but Caller ID. I also had to pay Verizon extra every month to keep my number unlisted. Apparently, it costs a few bucks every month to not print my phone number.

      They *had* long-distance/region
  • And this is news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Szaman2 (716894) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:53PM (#13129046) Homepage

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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 p
    • 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.
  • by Salis (52373) <howard,salis&gmail,com> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:10PM (#13129248) Journal
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeadVulcan (182139) <dead.vulcan@p o b o x . c om> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:14PM (#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.

  • 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

  • 300mS latency? (Score:2, Informative)

    by sbest (236991)
    I don't understand the 300mS cross-US latency figure -- my informal ping'ing has an average roundtrip less than 20mS across the US. And AFAIK, the QoS requirements of VoIP require a max of 120mS to 150mS (eg, http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-QOS [voip-info.org]). I don't use VoIP or Skype on a regular basis...has anyone ever experienced 300mS?
  • my experiences (Score:2, Informative)

    by Krystlih (543841)
    So far having VOIP LAN line for 6 months I can say the service is 10x better than Cell phone service. And yet every day people rely on their cell phones to do things like dial 911. I think the numbers are very promising for a reletively new technology. But like any technology it requires time to mature and find its place in the world.
  • Choices, Choices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theBraindonor (577245) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:21PM (#13129346) Homepage
    For me it has been pretty simple...

    Telco:
    3-4 weeks a year of tech-support hell. (older urban phone systems)
    $60 a month price tag.

    Voip:

    1-2 dropped phone calls a month--with calls routed to my cell when it's down.
    $25.00

    My installer even set me up with my DSL on it's own NID, after which I plugged the voip adapter back into the wall socket. Now all my wall phone adapters work just fine.

    As to power outages, it can be hard to find the non-wireless phone in the dark. Go ahead, tell me you have a cheap ten dollar phone hooked up. Where is it if the power goes out? Of course, since all my computer equipment is plugged into UPS's, I only worry about prolonged power outages.
  • Why the Whining? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tarsi210 (70325) <nathan.nathanpralle@com> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:21PM (#13129348) Homepage Journal
    Personally I think 94.8% is pretty awful. I don't think 99.4% is very good either.

    It's just fine.

    I see a lot of people whining about how your phone would be down 4 hours out of the month if you have 99.4 or whatever. My answer is: So?

    How many times do you need to make that phone call right-the-hell-now? Out of the phone calls in the past year, I'd say maybe...20. Max. The rest were more relaxed calls to friends/family that weren't time-dependent. Out of that 20, I can think of one time when I wanted to use the VoIP to call my wife's home country (Australia) and couldn't because it was down, so instead I paid Sprint a few dollars to do it through my landline. Whoop-dee-doo.

    Sure, 911 is a concern. But keep a cell phone or cheap landline around and you have that. My landline costs me $17/month. Potatoes. My VoIP [binfone.com] is worth it because it has brought my costs down from over $75/month to less than $20. Couple that with neat features of running my own Asterisk server and I have a really fun, useful service.

    I guess if you're using your VoIP as your home office phone or as a telemarketing device, 99.4% would hurt. For the average home user, the small inconvenience vs. price shouldn't bother anyone that much. I pay about $35/month for my entire phone service and my wife can call home as much as she wants. What a deal.
  • Sounds ok to m (Score:3, Insightful)

    by recursiv (324497) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:28PM (#13129420) Homepage Journal
    99% is better than my cell phone, and I find that useful enough to pay for. Not saying they can't make improvements though.
  • by defile (1059) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:35PM (#13129507) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Hey Taco, why don't you post Slashdot's availability?

    Thought so.

  • by scrotch (605605)
    Our office changed to VOIP through Covad five weeks ago and it's been a nightmare. Around 10 calls a day are being dropped - in the middle of the call. There have been volume problems. There are echo problems - hearing your own voice a second after you speak. Lots and lots of customers have complained that they can't get through to us when dialing our number. Incoming faxes are mangled or truncated with no error on the sender's side. In fact, the fax situation is so bad that Covad gave up on it and installe
  • Tivo fix (Score:3, Informative)

    by nsayer (86181) <nsayer@NospAm.kfu.com> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @06:17PM (#13129885) Homepage
    Before anyone hits 'reply' too quickly, I am aware that he is talking about an HD DirecTivo. I am aware that the USB ports are placebos. This technique is different.

    You can get your TiVo to use your broadband connection if you're willing to hack things a bit.

    You make a special DB91/8" stereo plug and plug one end into your TiVo's "remote out" jack, which is really just an RS-232 port in disguise. You connect the other end into a serial port set for 115200 bps on a computer running a PPP daemon. Set your TiVo dialing prefix to ,#211. Your TiVo will now use PPP over the serial port to do its TiVo related calls. I can confirm that software updates can be fetched in this manner, as well as everything else.

    You still must leave the phone line connected so that the crypto card can make its own phone calls, but THOSE calls will work just fine over Vonage (the modem bank they call into is 9600 bps). The only calls that have trouble are the V.90 ones into TiVo, and those are the ones that can be diverted with this technique.

    In my case, I actually plug the serial port into a bluetooth-to-serial module, and have a virtual BT serial port on my mac doing the PPP server duties. Works perfectly and doesn't require running a cable.
  • by dacarr (562277) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @06:45PM (#13130116) Homepage Journal
    Over on Speakeasy's service (which is a contract with Level 3), my experience is that if there are heavy transfers going on, even if SE does promise quality of service, the other traffic will disrupt your conversation. Worst case I've experienced is just high latency (one second delays are FUN!), worst case you get a lot of skips and pops.
  • by amichalo (132545) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @06:55PM (#13130193)
    For those of you considering dropping a land line in favor of VoIP, I have a few items you may be interested in taking note of:

    - You can take advantage of your existing home wiring by simply plugging your Vonage/etc line into any phone jack after you unplug the phone company's connection to your house in your main junction box. On newer homes and appartments, this will be a grey box you open and simply unplug the phoen cable. On older homes you may have to disconnect wires (don't forget to wrap ends seprately in electrical tape).

    - That step complete, even TIVO should have no problem enjoying VoIP.

    - What will not work are alarm systems that are wired directly to your house so a burglar cannot prevent an alarm signal by knocking a phone off the hook. For that, you may need a connector for your alarm that will allow you to not hard wire but plug in the phone line. I choose Brinks because they had such a connection that the service guy said was for VoIP installations, though mine was the first he had done and it was only avalable since Fall 2004. Anyway, you plug your Vonage line out into this line and from there it splits into the alarm and then has another line out you can jack into your home wiring so if there is a breakin, it cuts out the home wiring and goes straight to the Vonage.

    - update yout 911 info online. Because you can take your phone box with you anywhere, you have to update your 911 info if you are going to be somewhere, line on vacation, for a while.

    - Get ready for lower phone bills, less long distance, and free Vonage to Vonage and inside your area-code dialing!
  • by pergamon (4359) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:04PM (#13130680) Homepage
    Even old-timey phone companies are in love with VoIP, and many mainstream carriers are moving (or at least looking to move) their internal phone networks to VoIP for all their customers. What this means is that even if you and your phone buddy both have plain old analog telephone service, there's a non-trivial chance that your conversation might be carried as VoIP part or most of the way.
  • by RebornData (25811) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:52PM (#13130963)
    I've been a Callvantage user for about 4 months, and absolutely love the service. I see a lot of people on this thread commenting about how bad 99.4% is, treating that number like server uptime... that the service is unavailable .6% of the time, which adds up to hours per month.

    I believe that this study measures something different... the number of calls that were completed successfully out of all of the test calls. This is not the same as a time-based availability measurement. 99.4% means that out of 100 calls, less than one of them failed. This doesn't necessarily mean the service was down... just that the call attempt failed.

    Think about it this way... 7 failed calls in a week of testing will result in the same "availability" measurement, no matter whether they were 7 failed calls in a row, or 1 failed call a day. The former indicates a real outage, where users would likely be unable to use the service if they wanted. The latter might indicate a temporary glitch (perhaps with the TA even) that could be resolved by immediately re-attmpting the call. The former is a much bigger deal than the latter, but the numbers they've given us don't distinguish them.

    This matches my experience with Callvantage. I've never noticed that AT&T's service is "down". Sometimes when I attempt a call, it doesn't go through on the first try, but on the second try immediately after the failure, it completes. I've always chaulked this up to Internet flakiness. To repeat: I've *never* noticed an outage where I couldn't make a call, or where calls didn't ring to my cell phone (and I know... this is my business line).

    Anyway, the point is, 99.4% can mean a lot of things... and we don't really know how these call-completion numbers really match to service availability.

    -R

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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