There are many advantages to using Voice over IP rather than the traditional telephone network. VoIP is very cheap and easy to install. The only equipment you need to use VoIP is a broadband router or a special adapter for your current phone. Since you do not need a lot of equipment, it makes upgrading easier when technology increases. Another reason that VoIP is cheap is because you can also use your current phone with VoIP. Special phones are available for purchase, but a traditional phone will work with a router or an adapter. Another advantage of VoIP is most companies are offering free long distance. This is a big advantage over traditional telephone networks where long distance can be very costly. Many advanced features are offered with VoIP. Some features being offered by Lingo, a broadband phone company, include: anonymous call rejection, call forwarding, caller ID block, *69, caller ID, call waiting, do not disturb service, and many more (lingo.com). Most VoIP companies are offering these advanced features for free. A traditional phone company charges a substantial amount of money for all of the features. A last advantage of VoIP is the new portable technology that is coming out. Research In Motion is going to offer an upgraded version of the blackberry at the start of 2005 that integrates data and voice communication (integratedmar). A person cannot currently use their traditional “home phone” when their not at home. VoIP has an advantage here because technology is coming out where you can use your VoIP service when your not at home through these new portable devices.
A major issue with VoIP currently is latency, which averages 40 to 60 milliseconds of delay per gateway. As VoIP gains in popularity problems with latency will get better as better technology is available. A second disadvantage of VoIP is traffic may have a hard time traveling between a traditional network and the Internet. This will cause a problem when important calls need to be placed in emergencies such as to 911. As with latency, traffic management will get better as more people switch to VoIP. The more in demand VoIP becomes, the more people will demand an infrastructure that integrates the PSTN and the Internet seamlessly. Another disadvantage of VoIP is the lack of a standard protocol. There are currently numerous different protocols out right now, but the FCC has not standardized any yet. There is also no current protocol in place to make sure the packets, which carry the voice over the Internet, are rearranged in the correct order. There is no current protocol to check for missing or dropped packets, so a voice may reach the receiver and have missing words because of lost or dropped packets. There are several emerging protocols that are popular among VoIP companies, such as the H.323 protocol. The older that VoIP gets, the better protocols will be in place. Another major disadvantage of VoIP is there are currently no QoS guarantees. QoS guarantees are important to businesses as well as people. Once the VoIP infrastructure has been in place longer, the time that customers cannot connect should go down. Since VoIP is a new technology, issues like latency, connection-time, and QoS will be worked out—it will just take time. Lastly, VoIP will not work during power outages because VoIP uses the Internet, which requires power to connect.
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