Is VoIP for Everyone?
A few VoIP bloggers got their panties in a twist when they read the Lance Ulanoff article saying that VoIP wasn’t for everyone. Yeah, what else is new? While I do not disagree with the premise, and neither does Andy or Om, the reasoning he uses for justification doesn’t seem sound. The folks at VoIP Weblog think it’s elaborate, yet mostly fictitious, assertions against broadband VoIP services. They are also wise to point out that The Digital Goddess Kim Komando also made similar assertions.
The 911 thing is kind of a biggie (though he was wrong on some of the details about it), the availability thing is certainly valid (though let’s not forget at least half the population has a perfectly good cell phone to use for backup). Security issues are a non-starter for me (ever heard of alligator clips on an analog lone). Only a handful of the 1,100 or so VoIP companies out there are related to one of the “big” phone companies, and LNP is available with many providers.
I think I’ve gotta agree with Om in that people like Lance and Kim write for a mass-audience. The mass audience doesn’t want to be involved with the minutae of VoIP that those of us who use VoIP and even blog about it are familiar with. On the other hand, some additional fact-checking would have uncovered a different set of facts they could have presented.
The value proposition of a consumer VoIP service is: features and cost savings. Reliability of both the VoIP service and the underlying Internet connection isn’t there yet. The question you have to ask yourself is: given the limitations and the cost savings, is it worth it?
In my family, the answer is no. I have two PSTN lines from Qwest in addition to my various VoIP lines. Why? Reliability. For my wife who isn’t technically savvy, though not afraid of technology, she just wants the phone to work. I don’t think it’s quite ready to pass the wife test in my house. I keep a seperate PSTN line for work-related stuff, and because now I’ve got DSL on it.
My one piece of advice to you is this: consider your options carefully.