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A coffeeshop conversation on Voice-over-IP

It’s definately ringing in the public’s ears: A fellow who usually sinks his money into commodities trading is starting to put his money on VoIP providers.

Phone companies are running scared, and they don’t know whether to jump into Internet Service in a big way, try to stifle competition, or embrace IP telephony with open arms. So they do all three, and none of it very well. Except stifling what they can. They’ve always been good at that.

I think we will see convergence coming soon, even here, in the rural West. I can see fibre optics replacing parts of the in-town network. I can see HDSL and other ways of pushing more bits over otherwise empty copper being rolled out in short order.

And I can see phone service becoming completely virtual. You just buy a number in the cities of your choice, and pay a small fee (probably flat) to get it to where you are.

Life is good.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
vruba
Jul. 19th, 2004 05:59 pm (UTC)

I like it all except the numbers. Phone numbers seem like egregious imposition – a barely human-readable para-serial tag, like an SSN, instead of a potentially useful para-name, like an e-mail address. Phone numbers are one of very few truly arbitrary-seeming numbers that Just Plain Folks often handle, and I think there should be fewer. (Bar codes also tick me off. License plates somewhat less.) Even if numbers are useful as one addressing layer, I don’t see that they need to be memorized wholesale by people who just want to talk to each other – but then, I don’t really understand the phone system.

aredridel
Jul. 19th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC)

Oh, the number thing bothers me, but phones finally have enough brain that you can dial by name now on most cells, and others are following suit.

The thing that phones do well, and are aided by humans knowing the addressing, is that ff the power's out, and you have a dumb ol' Bell Telephone, it'll work. The batteries at the central office power it, and the fancy electronic phone book won't work, but you know the number and so you do okay. That's a power most computers haven't managed yet. Close, but no cigar. It feels reliable. People consider knowing phone numbers worthwhile, because they don't change often, and they "always work".

That's changing. With cell phones, frequent outages, and electronic phones requiring mains power to even function, phones are coming down to the level of the computer, and computers are getting more reliable. They're meeting soon, and so even if the VoIP is out for a few minutes here and there, everyone will think it's normal.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )