VoIP hits the mainstream

vonageTwo years ago I signed up for a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service from a small company called Vonage when I was working out of a home office. At the time, it shaved more than $125 per month off of my long distance telephony bill.

I was so delighted with it that I started personally evangelizing it to people in my company. Several of my colleagues were from India and they’d order two instances of Vonage service and ship one box (with the Cisco ATA — telephone/internet router interface box) to their relative in India. They could then call a local U.S. number in the same area code in which they lived and it would ring the Cisco box over in India — saving them a fortune on international telephone charges.

Today I read a CNet article about Vonage offering their service at retail in CompUSA stores which now surpasses 8,000 retail outlets for them in North America. I was, quite frankly, stunned that there is so much distribution and the business has become so mainstream in the two years since I signed up.

What about growth? Who has the momentum?

The exciting aspect of all of this is the momentum behind internet telephony as evidenced in this synopsis of a Yankee Group study on VoIP growth. Today virtually all off-shore telephony traffic is IP-based. Cable
companies — primary purveyors of broadband deployments in the U.S. — report rapid VoIP growth.

Vonage is cool…but what about products like Skype and other PC-based offerings?

skypeThough I’m enamored with the computer-based VoIP software system called Skype (billed as “free Internet telephony that just works”), Vonage (and systems like them with more direct integration) seamlessly leverage the existing circuit-switched telephony infrastructure while Skype patches in to it (though the primary direction for Skype is PC-to-PC based communications). The quality of service on Vonage and their competitors seems to me — when using them on the same bandwidth connections on both ends (I’ve tried both) — to be better with the telephony based services vs. the PC-based ones.

What about competition?  There are a lot of companies in the business with over 1,000 VoIP providers from more than 100 countries! Also, there is a significant battle over market share occurring.

If nothing else, try Skype and get a feel for the quality and then consider one of the mainstream ones (you can even check your cable companies offerings). It’s going to change your telephony experience and drop your costs — while letting you start to use the next generation of the telephone today.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.