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The Internet United States

Qwest Launches VoIP Trial 122

prostoalex writes "Qwest Communications International, a local phone operator covering 14 Northern and Western United States, launched its first Voice-over-IP trial in Minneapolis/St.Paul area. 'The future of voice communications will be based on the Internet', Qwest's CEO was quoted as saying." Also in the news: some vague plans by AT&T to use VoIP as well.
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Qwest Launches VoIP Trial

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  • when you can just get the roger wilco game communication software and communicate by voice during UT2003
    • my Player saying 'Die Bitch!' while on the phone with a female..
    • This is silly. People just use IM. That does voice and more. Phones are living dead technology. Only analysts and old people do not see this. Like B&W TV and cassettes you can tell your g.kids about them. Of course, the new "phones" will actually be computer with video cameras like what the cell companies are trying to get to now.

      Only the US legal system that makes it illegal to do phone-to-PC (AFAICT) is keeping those crooks in business. Wree it not for that, I would not need a phone.
  • AT&T Is ALWAYS vague (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They'll take forever to get an offering out, but it will be the most reliableand dependable!
  • by talexb ( 223672 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:49AM (#7690695) Homepage Journal

    How soon till be start hearing about people using dial modems over VoIP phone lines for Internet access?

    • You mean MOIP? Or V.150.1? Already in the works...
    • People already do....

      There was even an issue with 56K compression due to the way the voice packets are generated. The main use is for secure systems like banks that required modems to access, or more generally credit card machines and security systems. Some people still dont have much of a clue and we get trouble tickets every now and then with problems using modems, esp. w/AOL (even though the way our service works, the bandwidth of the T1 not in use by voice can be used via the etherenet port on the rout

    • I have done that to test my modem before nothing like conecting to the internet over.
  • data (phones) or Digital data (voip) its all data. Except of course apparently where the RIAA is concerned where its ok to copy analog (fm stereo) but not digital (cd).
    • Re:Analog (Score:4, Funny)

      by Steve Franklin ( 142698 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @12:01PM (#7690823) Homepage Journal
      "its all data."

      "Hello, emergency? There's a man trying to break down my front door with a chain saw!"

      "We apologize for the inconvenience, but this program is not responding. Please reboot your telephone and try again."
      • My phone service goes down more than my ISP. I've been able to chat to people over cable modem while my phone is dead from a storm.

        If said burgler cut your phone wires, you not know it until you picked up the phone. If your IP-based phone was cut, it could let you know immediately with a type of alarm.
    • RIAA (Score:3, Informative)

      Except of course apparently where the RIAA is concerned where its ok to copy analog (fm stereo) but not digital (cd).

      Actually it wasn't OK with the RIAA for you to copy FM radio to analog tape. But the courts made them allow it, by identifying a right to make a personal-use copy for listening to the broadcast program at a time other than that of the broadcast ("time-shifting").
  • Telemarketers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by haystor ( 102186 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:49AM (#7690700)
    Am I the only one that doesn't want VOIP to lower costs so that telemarketing can be outsourced to less expensive countries? At least now there are costs keeping the telemarketing volume below the spam volume. That, and they can usually speak English.

    I don't want everyone that can hook a phone into the internet to be able to call me.
    • On the other hand, we might be able to make blacklists for telephones. Heh.
    • Re:Telemarketers (Score:3, Informative)

      by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 )
      Hate to tell you, telemarketers are already using VoIP to lower the costs and doing it overseas. They don't have to wait for telcos to do that. My company, though not a telemarketing company, but has call center presence in other countries, make extensive use of VoIP.
    • Re:Telemarketers (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lxy ( 80823 )
      You're one of those people who tries to outlaw cool things because they might be used for terrorism, aren't you?

      VoIP is here, it works, and it's cheap. May as well get on board.
      • I don't want it outlawed.

        I want the cost of calling me to be too high for telemarketers to afford. If its too high for my in-laws to afford too, that's a bonus.

        I'm getting a 976 number.
    • Keeping costs higher so that the industry stays in business is nothing short of charity. It's worse, infact, because the common people will be bearing the burden while the execs of these telco's will be golfing.

      This is a very odd society indeed, where a single mother that has to go to two jobs to make ends meet, but corporations can be given a really cool deal.

      S
  • So, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by w.p.richardson ( 218394 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:50AM (#7690704) Homepage
    Can the telephone company-like regulation and tax of the internet be far behind?

    I don't think so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:50AM (#7690710)
    I need a phone line from the telephone company so I can get DSL so I can use VOIP to talk to people over the phone?
    • Yes. Vonage [vonage.com] does exactly this. Although it can work over cable as well.
    • I need a phone line from the telephone company so I can get DSL so I can use VOIP to talk to people over the phone?
      Exactly!

      Keep that in mind the next time you read or hear some pundit saying the local telcos will become obsolete.

    • Theres two ways to look at this:
      - Second (third, etc) phone lines can be VOIP and thus cheaper
      - There's no reason you "must" have a phone line; its just a requirement the phone companies make sure they get in on the picture. Perhaps down the road, when VOIP has a firm position, we could see lawmakers finally split up the ownership of lines compared to the the services provided on those lines. Why isn't my local phone company leasing the lines from some regulated infrastructure provider?
    • No, no, no

      You need to get the phone line so you can get the DSL service so you can get the VoIP so you can use your modem to dial AOL and use your RogerWilco headset to talk to people across the room doing the same thing....

      tm

    • Ha!

      My question is do we have to pay money for this? Maybe there is something I'm missing, but isn't VOIP the same thing as any other TCP/IP application? I don't pay my ISP for other TCP/IP services individually (email, web, news, streaming radio, etc), so why should I have to pay for low quality streaming voice signal?
  • ...I mean, customers - who would be thrilled just to get more than 64k ISDN at home. Maybe they shouldset their sights a little more realistically, eh?

  • hmm .. this will be a good time to make a local call to china. woo hoo!
  • Well, yeah.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:52AM (#7690725) Homepage Journal
    'The future of voice communications will be based on the Internet',

    How long did it take these guys to figure this one out? VOIP has been around for a while now and a number of folks have been using it rather successfully. We have been using iChat to video conference from North America to New Zealand for remote collaboration for a while now leading me to wonder which companies are in control of all that excess fiber bandwidth that is sitting around.

    • Re:Well, yeah.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lxy ( 80823 )
      Qwest is milking this for all its worth.

      Last night one of the local news stations basically gave Qwest the credit for inventing VoIP. They made it sound like Qwest is some amazing visionary company, ignoring the likes of Vonage who offer the same service for cheaper.

      I'm glad to see that Vonage and Qwest are now competing, should be an interesting fight and (hopefully) a win for the consumers.
  • Latancy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:52AM (#7690729) Homepage Journal
    I bet the Internet Phone will cause an immense improvement in latancy. (Unless people enjoy speaking with several milliseconds latancy).
    • Echo Cancellation and Jitter Buffers routinely introduce delays well over 200ms, and it's usually undetectable by the callers (unless they are sitting next to each other). It will likely result in more providers correctly using QoS, but I doubt you'll see changes in latency.
    • Vonage has already had issues with dropped calls because their voice traffic is going over "The Internet". AT&T is claiming their VoIP calls will be routed over a separate data network...I'd link to the original AT&T article but it was on NYTIMES (reg req'd). I have VoIP at home through unstablevision (Optimum Voice) and it's been working very well for me.
  • Well - duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeppe Salvesen ( 101622 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:53AM (#7690742)
    VOIP will radically cut costs for the Telco - the equipement used to operate the internet is much cheaper per byte than the equipment used to operate a traditional phone service.

    I'm just really surprised they haven't caught on before now.
    • well.. they have been transferring the calls over the longer distances for years over voip like protocols(for a really long time the only part the signal travelled in analog has been the final landline to the subscribers house).

      -
    • Yeah, but if you think that the lower costs are going to lead to lower prices, think again.

      No, what we need is municipal-owned fiber networks with open-access to all types of service provider.
      • Tell that to packet8 [packet8.net] - $20 per month, unlimited local and long distance. It isn't the telephone company offering lower prices, but VoIP in general leads to more $$ is your pocket.

  • Since telemarketers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by panxerox ( 575545 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:54AM (#7690750)
    would be transmitting over the internet could they be sued using anti "spam" laws? i mean spam is afterall spam.
    • Or hack your VoIP box so you can just 'drop' their connection, when they try to make a call to you....

      Hmmmzzz maybe a loopback to their own IP would be nice to ...no, make that tenfold :-)
    • Not unless the generally accepted definition of spam is changed. Currently, spam is considered to be the inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, or USENET or other networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast medium by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn't ask for it. Mass junk E-mail. -University of Arizona Library [arizona.edu]

      Since telemarketing is a one-to-one call, it probably wouldn't be covered without some sort of alterations to existing laws.
    • It's voice-over-IP, not voice-over-Internet. There isn't a guarantee that a VOIP call will be entirely, or even partially, routed over "the Net".
  • by dakkon1024 ( 691790 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:56AM (#7690760)
    Cable vision has done something similar, which worked out well, but there are some interesting problems. When the power goes out, you're out of luck. Even with a UPS if the power is out for a few hours, not much you can do about it unless everybody buys a home generator. Also, they where denied 911. Meaning that there is no 911 service because it wasn't deemed reliable enough to host one. Small problems, but you still seem to need another phone just in case.
    • Practically everyone has cell phones now, so I don't think that the emergency issue is that big of a deal. Especially with the super cheap phones with no minutes or the prepaid phones you can keep for months on end w/o using once. My only worry would be the elderly, or anyone who's not quite as current on their technology. But, they wouldn't have VoIP anyways. so...
    • 911 service depends on the carrier. The company I work for has the required 911 trunks, so all our customers DO have 911 access. Its not an issue of reliability (after all, how reliable IS your cell phone??), rather an issue of the service provider having the physical resources to setup the access trunks properly. For VoIP providers that use your internet connection, this is difficult because unless you tell them, they dont really need to know where you are geographically, and therefore your 911 call could
      • Vonage has 911 available. It requires an action by the user, which is a smart thing. The user has to request 911 service and fill out a form detailing the address they want to report when dialing. So it's a little annoying that you have to go through the motions to set it up, but it's smarter than just assuming the billing address is the source of the 911 call.
    • Cable TV, in order to communicate 2 ways, installed a multiplexor at the neighborhood level. This mux doesn't have redundant power. Most people don't have battery backup for their TV sets, why would CableTV bother to provide battery backup for their stuff?
      They weren't planning ahead. They never thought to support 911/traditional phone services.

      If you had power at your house, with most DSL, it would still work. DSL equipment (in most cases) is powered by the same central office power that runs the
      • why would CableTV bother to provide battery backup for their stuff?

        Actually, I believe they do have a battery pack. In the part of Minneapolis I call home, ice or wind storms will break a power line now and then. My net access is via a cable modem, which hangs off my UPS with some other gear. Last time my fridge was dead, but my net connection alive. An hour or so later we passed one of the road runner trucks parked next to a box and found they were running a generator... not that it mattered by morni
  • It's been over a year since I've had to pay for a long distance phone call by the minute. Almost every cellular plan has free long distance included with it. Between that, e-mail and AIM/ICQ et al. for communication, the consumer is becoming less and less likley to actually pick up the phone and make an hour long phone call across the nation. It's too expensive...

    Instead of dialing 10-10-982-21-121321-1231242342 before every call, just pick up your PC handset. Besides that, you'll have the advantange
  • by hawkbug ( 94280 ) <psx@ERDOSfimble.com minus math_god> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @11:58AM (#7690793) Homepage
    I want my phone service to cut out everytime a Microsoft worm hits the wild..... I'll stick to current "old phone" technology for the time being, thank you.
  • when you seen the headline Quest Launches VoIP Trial and the first thing you think is that someone is suing someone.
    • Crazy. I think that there should be a differnt word used. Something like Quest Launches VoIP in test markets. Or something, just don't use the word trial to mean anything other than a court case. It messes with my brain.
  • by defwu ( 688771 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @12:04PM (#7690848) Journal
    It will be very interesting to see if they actually roll out a VOIP solution that works for the masses. Vonage has a pretty successful model, but IMHO it has a pretty limited audience : those who have high bandwith connections and are willing to risk losing calls. I mean, how much would it suck if your router went down and you dropped all incoming calls? And since your computer is now your integrated communications terminal, you lose all voice mail capability as well.

    I think the age of converged communications is here, and am happy that large telcos are going to start moving that direction, but maybe we ought to think about another model, other than the large telco ("Hey we own the wires!") pardigm.

    • Unfortunately, VoIP is coming and it IS going to become the predominant form of residential/business communications. What people seem to forget is that by doing so, we've just made the internet a very large utility like the phone company. Subject to regulations, taxes. I can just see it now....a Universal Service Fee tagged on to my bill to make sure everyone has broadband access to their home.
      • Yeah, the whole taxes thing again...

        As i see it, the the traditional telco model is based on the very real expense of owing/operating all those miles of wire, and a societal desire to give everyone access to a telephone (I mean, come on, have you ever been stuck in the middle of Ohio in some podunk town with out a telephone? not for many years!).

        Switching to VOIP still doesn't remove the need for telco's to own/operate miles of wire. The consumer will still pay for it at some point, so I think that you

      • I've heard that every 6th grader in Michigan is given a laptop computer for the purpose of internet access...
  • by andrews ( 12425 ) <alan@tieleRABBITss.com minus herbivore> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @12:06PM (#7690867)
    It's not a VoIP service despite what the marketing droids call it. It's a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) gateway service which is a very different animal. VoIP doesn't require a phone company, just an IP network connection.

    What Qwest and the other bells (and Vonage) are doing is allowing VoIP call termination to the existing POTS network.

    Everyone's seen the writing on the wall and it says "POTS is dead, long live the packet!"

    At some point a network effect will kick in when there is a critical mass of VoIP users who discover everyone they call is on VoIP and realize they don't need the bells for anything.

    • Everyone's seen the writing on the wall and it says "POTS is dead, long live the packet!"

      I'm looking for a huge shakeout a la the dot-com boom/bust -- because everyone's jumping in to the VoIP market. Here's an example:

      An outfit with the unwieldy company/website name of media-streams USA, Inc. [media-streamsusa.com] set up (at no small cost) at a recent Microsoft Office launch seminar, and passed out business-card CDs of their presentation. I asked in passing about states regulating VoIP, and the response was "Good luck regu
  • In Other News... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tds67 ( 670584 )
    "The future of voice communications will be based on the Internet, and Qwest is excited to lead the way for customers," said Richard Notebaert, Qwest's chairman and chief executive.

    In possibly related news, the Internet domain name "stopvoicespam.com" was registered today.

  • by John Murray ( 149 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @12:10PM (#7690889) Homepage
    Why VOIP is a good thing:

    • POTS phones are too inexpensive.
    • POTS phones are too simple. With VOIP I need a lot expensive equipment in a complex setup.
    • Who needs line powered phones. I like having to have my own battery bank, and generator to keep IP network up. I'm not longer at the phone companies mercy for powering my phones!
    • My Broadband provider is much more reliable then the phone company.
    • Having stop using my broadband connection to make a phone call reminds me of my old dial-up days.
    • High voice quality is overrated, with VOIP I get compressed sound, and dropouts just like I was talking on a cell phone!
    • Who needs E911 serivce, I can get out my phone book an look up the number when I have an emergency, and I can tell them where I am. No more big brother tracking where I'm calling from.
    • What better way to route local calls then all around the country on the internet backbone, then back to my town.
    • I no longer have to pay those damn universal service fees, if those poor people want phone service they can full price , or suffer with out it. They can use a pay phone(these still exist?).


    POTS = Plain Old Telephone Serivce, the basci analog serivce you get from the phone company.
    • or why would it be a bad thing for a company (my company is going full VOIP next week)
      -VOIP is proving to be very expensive to setup
      -VIOP requires T1 (and up) lines if you want any decent voice quality and be able to handle a decent amount of load
      -You are only as good as your Internet line is :)(as it is proving to be with our company on the test phase, the lines are proving to be *flaky* and we cannot afford to have the internet down under any circumstances now, because we need to be on the phones all
  • Part of a Trend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mugnyte ( 203225 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2003 @12:23PM (#7690987) Journal
    This is yet just another business model that needs drastic changes based on the networked digital economy. Libraries, Travel Agents, Porn, Gambling, Advertising, Music [and eventually] Movie distribution, and now telephone communication. All going to the packets.

    There is something scary about so much economy on the wires, but such will be the Information Age. The telephone companies are one of the larger entities who's cheese is getting moved, and I don't expect them to go down without a crying about it. The RIAA is another who now has to accept that their content will be on the lines to stay.

    Once everyone starts using end-point phones that accept not only traditional lines, but ethernet, we're going to see a very low barrier-to-entry for providing phone service, IMO. Once this steps up, all the bells and whistles we again be sold to us (photo, video, messaging, etc). There's a slew of new possibilities that a lot of new players could innavte into such a system. I'm looking forward to it.

    Imagine if you will:
    - Scanning photos, receipts, etc into your [cell] phone for the recipient, live or to an answering machine. Or sending them a video.
    - Getting a message on your phone from your mother who thinks "this commercial, watch this" or "this newspaper article" was really interesting or funny. Ok, maybe this isn't all good.
    - Calling your home silently and hopping around the house phones to check their cameras (babysitter, teenagers, security).
    - Having a web page served from your phone that holds your recorded messages, images, memos, stored documents, etc. And being able to pull them out of another phone.

    mug
    • ---Once everyone starts using end-point phones that accept not only traditional lines, but ethernet, we're going to see a very low barrier-to-entry for providing phone service, IMO.---

      Once everyone starts using VOIP enabled phone there is NO NEED for phone service at all. As long as I know your IP address, and your phone is addressable (hello IPv6) I can place a call to you. The media (voice, video etc...) are all point to point (or should be). The only service provider you need is broadband.

      There are ser
  • a local phone operator
    USQWest is my phone company. USQWest is in Denver. I'm just outside Seattle. Except for their Denver customers, USQWest is not local. They are the true decendant of Ma Bell: We don't care; we don't have to.
  • Not so surprising. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i_r_sensitive ( 697893 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @12:46PM (#7691215)
    And, in point of fact, four years ago the company I worked for was negotiating with AT&T to adopt their VoIP plan, So AT&T may be vague, but they probably beat everyone else to the punch.

    The thing is, the best way for the telco's to do this is not to use the public internet backbone, but their existing infrastructure. Consider, they allready have the copper and fiber in place, The could then use VoIP to vastly increase the amount of traffic which they could support.

    This also obviates most of the quality issues inherent in the internet. It would allow the telco to continue to provide a high quality service without relying on temperamental internet links. Gateways to the public internet could be used when needed, but their use would probably be best avoided except where no other route existed.

    This would allow the phone companies to provide VoIP service without all the potential issues of dropping such traffic into the uncontrolled internet. Consider they will be charging you for this service, they need to provide the best and most reliable service, what better way than to keep it to infrastructure they control or have binding agreements with the controllers of, rather than an uncontrolled medium.

  • If you want to sign up for ATT's VoIP trial, goto talk.att.com. It takes about 2 weeks and then you get a D-Link router that does the VoIP for you. Seveal of my friends and myself have signed up for it. It's free (including calls) till Feb 29.
  • AT&T CDS (VoIP) (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    (posted anonymously due to NDA)

    I'm in the AT&T CDS beta program and compared to the other VoIP offerings it's probably one of the best. Packet8 is having some serious growing pains and their service is really starting to suck. AT&T offers more services than Vonage although the monthly cost that is being tossed around during the beta period is $49.99. That is probably the most expensive consumer VoIP service out there but if you use all of the features it may be worth it. One major bitch about

  • I asked this in the SmoothWall story from a couple of days ago but I didn't receive a reply regarding Vonage usage. So the better question is, has anyone used any of these VoIP services?

    Just to note, Vonage is using a new Motorola adapter that plugs directly to your cable modem now...it was covered on Gizmodo the other day...

  • Just wait until Microsoft jumps in on this game. There is a reason why they are building in VoIP support in Longhorn. Sure, office-wise, Longhorn Pro will target the business clients, but I'm sure Longhorn Home Edition will offer a VoIP service as well.

    As a matter of fact, I would bet Apple will build this first into OS X 10.4 or in the next push of .Mac services... Are you listening, Mr. Jobs? (or, for that matter, AOL?). An "iTalk A Lot" for the teenage female audience...
  • Telephony, Dec 22, 1997
    http://telephonyonline.com/ar/telecom_qwest_contin ues_retail/
    "Qwest Communications last week announced that business and residential customers in nine markets will have access to phone-to-phone, voice-over-Internet protocol service by the end of January."
  • Vonage (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Docrates ( 148350 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @02:36PM (#7692386) Homepage
    I use Vonage [vonage.com], pay $40.00 a month and have unlimited US-wide service. My phone number is of the Miami area (area code 786, but I could have chosen any area code) and I use a regular telephone.....And I do all this from my home in Central America.

    They give you a little cisco thingy that you hook up to your hub and configures itself using DHCP. I have a 192Kbps connection and NO-ONE has been able to figure out I'm using voip. In fact, voice quality is much better than the regular Cable & Wireless telephony service (wich is pretty good I might add).

    Try it, it even has voicemail, caller ID, and all the other regular goodies.
  • I live in a town in Oregon. Qwest runs the phone lines here, and has us by the nuts. We pay around $100/month to them just for two phone lines. We use no long distance.

    Plus, their equipment is dated, and it's nearly impossible to get ADSL because of them.

    Burn in hell, Qwest.
  • ...or is the first thing I think of these days, when I see the words launching trial, is a yet another stupid-ass lawsuit [sco.com]?

    Maybe it's time to stop reading so much /.


  • Excuse me, but is this a cool way to get people back to low audio bandwidth while charging them the same or more?

    And you can look at your phone log in a browser!

    Yipee.
  • VOIP over DSL...
    Who would have ever thunk it?

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