Will VoIP Spur Broadband?
While it’s true that for roughly $25, you can either get a basic phone line with your local exchange carrier (e.g. Qwest, SBC, Verizon) or a fully featured phone line delivered over VoIP with big-name carriers, the one item that’s left out of the equation: the cost of your broadband connection.
For people that already have broadband and don’t have to maintain a phone line as part of that broadband (i.e. DSL), the choice between a regular phone line and a VoIP line is a no-brainer. The cost savings is there, the reliabiliy is there, and 911 is available with many providers.
For the people that either must maintain a phone line as part of their Broadband or those who don’t want to entirely give up their landline, a hybrid solution can work. A device like a Sipura SPA-3000 or the “Call-in-one” device that SIPphone sells and Leadtek manufacturers might be just the solution. Or just use a two-line phone instead.
The tougher nut to crack is going to be the people that don’t already have broadband — either because they can’t get it or they don’t want it. VoIP is said to be the “killer app” for broadband (i.e. something that will spur people to get it), but I don’t think so.
Regardless of how it is delivered, Broadband is generally a fixed cost item. It varies depending on where you live and what speed you can get. The cost for broadband is usually about the same cost as a regular telephone with features and/or some long distance. Sure, the Broadband is useful for other things, but many people, like my in-laws who live a few houses away from me, are happy with dialup. The cost savings they may obtain from VoIP is outweighed by the high cost of entry — the very broadband connection VoIP requires to operate.
Personally, I think it’s going to be the other way around: cheaper, faster broadband access will spur VoIP adoption.