January 25, 2006
VoIP - What About Those $25 Vonage Ads?
You've seen the advertising - an amazing cornucopia of telephone services for $25 and so easy to install, even the technology-challenged have no problem with it. Vonage can offer this service because it's using the internet, piggybacking on existing broadband cables and the like, to serve its customers. Think of the low overhead involved.
How can they do it? Through VoIP, "Voice over Internet Protocol," which is explained in great detail at HowStuffWorks.Com and at Wikipedia.
Should you switch? Yes, but maybe later ... VoIP service is only as good as that of your internet service provider. The reliability assumed with standardized phone service just isn't there for VoIP yet. Think power failures, viruses and worms, things like that.
And, importantly - there's the 911 issue. Right now, using VoIP means that the 911 system cannot automatically discern the source location of the VoIP call. If you call 911 and cannot tell them your address, they won't know. For this reason alone, perhaps it's best to wait on VoIP until the providers get these kinks out of the service.