Tuesday, June 20, 2006

VOIP - Ready for Prime Time?

   About two months ago my wife and I decided to take the plunge and try out VOIP.  Economically it made a lot of sense.  The pricing at SunRocket is just so much better than the price of our local baby bell.  The question was, would the service be comparable?  The short answer is that while it is not as good as POTS, it is good enough for us.  It may not be for everyone yet though.

   There are three major worries about VOIP phones:

  • It may not work with 911

  • The voice quality may be low

  • It isn't reliable.

Two of the three of these turned out to be non-issues and the third isn't as big a problem as it might have been.

   The 911 problem is largely solved for VOIP.  All of the major providers support Enhanced 911 service.  When you call 911, the call center is provided with information like your address.

   The voice quality is excellent on our line.  At times I think it sounds a bit different but only when I'm focusing on it and that could just be me hearing what I expect to hear.  It is certainly better than most cell connections.  I don't notice any breakup, distortion, or significant latency.

   The reliability isn't all there yet.  POTS never goes out.  Even when your power is down, POTS phones just work.  This isn't the case with VOIP.  If your power it out, it won't work.  If your network is down, it won't work.  When the VOIP company is having issues, it won't work.  When we first had the phone installed, we were experiencing random drops where we could hear what the other person was saying but they couldn't hear us.  After a call (on a cell phone) to Sunrocket, tech support fixed the issue by tweaking something in their device.  Since then, it has been working like a charm. 

   System setup is really easy.  Just plug the device, which Sunrocket calls their "Gizmo," into your network between your cable/dsl modem and your router.  The Gizmo has 2 phone jacks on it into which you plug regular phone line and regular phones.  At my house I have a star network for my phones so I just connected the device to my central phone hub and all the phones in the house worked.

   So, would I recommend it?  Yes.  There is a caveat that you'll have to be a little technically savvy to deal with the glitches that come with networking.  If you can figure out how to reset a cable modem/router every once in a while, you can handle this.  The economics of VOIP are just so much better than land lines.  In our area, a full package of phone plus features like caller ID, etc. costs $35 per month plus long distance and taxes.  Sunrocket is just over $17.  If you have a land line you don't use very much, you can get away with the $9.95/month package.  For $25/month, I can deal with a little inconvenience.

No comments:

Post a Comment