Learn 1st Hand About Vonnage, Packet8, And Skype – The Real 411

voip phone services
Whether you’re a current user of Vonnage, Packet8, or Skype VoIP phone services….or are just curious about them….a good place to learn whatever you want to know is their online discussion Forums. Keep in mind that each of these is company sponsored or influenced….so you’ll have to filter through some obvious biases and emotional attachments to get at what you really want.

If your looking for advice or information on set-up, trouble shooting, special promotions, company news, plan pricing, etc…..from actual users and company types…these are good resources. If you don’t mind wading through the frequent sappy gushings of infatuated fans…you can get some very useful pearls. Occassionally you’ll even hit on some eye opening honest assessments and advice too. Just look hard until you find something that fits your need. It’s there.

Vonnage Forum

It’s no secret that I’m not fond of Vonnage. I feel they’re way over priced, have built there reputation on a massive marketing machine vice a quality product, and their customer service sucks. But this is a pretty loyal and active Forum with a few very helpful regular posters. Better to get the scoop here than listen to that annoying “Whoohoo” jingle again.

Packet8 Forum [community.packet8.net/]

It’s also no secret that Packet8 is my favorite broadband phone service. Particularly for any business applications. Their frequent industry awards for business packages…such as the recent top nod for their Virtual Office IP PBX offering….sold me a long time ago. Their Forum takes an extra step to get into for registration but is worth it. The Forum contents are probably more informative overall about services, applications, and the parent company [8X8 Inc.] than the other 2 forums are.

Skype Forum

I’ve never been an advocate of Sofphone services but it does have it’s place. Skype is the hands down king here…but is far from perfect. Their “free” isn’t really free for example….unless those you’re calling also have Skype. Plus their business applications leave much to be desired. But their following are rabid supporters. Plus they have probably the largest share of the VoIP “phone” market worldwide…..especially in Europe and Asia….for now. Their Forum can be more Rah Rah than informational at times but is well worth looking over.

Now if you prefer a more open and unbiased community dialogue and Forum experience….I suggest you trek over to the VoIP Forum at DSLReports.com. It can be somewhat of a free-for-all at times. But there’s a ton of useful information shared on all kinds of VoIP providers beyond just the 3 mentioned above….as well as some links to useful tools to enhance your VoIP experience.

DSLReports.com VoIP Forum

There ya go. Between these open discussion resources you should be able to find whatever you need about VoIP phones … and the specific providers cited. Just keep in mind that it’s all other people’s opinions. The bottom line is that it’s YOUR opinion that counts most.

Chinese Telecommunication Regulations to Trample VoIP

Telecommunication Regulations to Trample VoIP
The Chinese government is starting to set telecommunication regulations and rules and they should not be too surprising because they are very much interested in controlling what goes on inside their nation and also what leaves. China is very much concerned with losing control of the people or having a civil war. Remember it is still a communist nation. We know that the Chinese government is very adamant about Internet censorship for various reasons.

China also sees a threat with Voice IP technologies and that is voice over the Internet like Vonage. China is very concerned about this and they should not surprise anyone because they are very concerned with Internet censorship and maintaining complete control of everything that is viewed online by their people. This does pose a problem for those in the Voice IP business and it may exclude China as a market.

Although the Chinese telecommunication rules and regulations have not been put into place yet they will include VoIP and other light technologies to help the Chinese government maintain control over the people and their communication systems. Some decry the new telecommunication rules and regulations, but few are surprised by them. Perhaps you might consider all this in 2006.

Five Considerations That Ensure Successful Transition to Internet Phone Service

internet phone service
1.Assess your existing infrastructure

One of the most important considerations while planning a migration to an Internet phone service is to assess the state of the existing infrastructure present in the organization. This would require complete analysis of the existing telephone network as well as the data communication network. It is important to clearly determine the infrastructure that can be reused in the new setup, the equipment that would get obsolete and the new equipment that needs to be purchased for the migration. This would give you an idea of the extent of investments needed for the initiative.

2.Evaluate the amount of bandwidth available in the existing network

Before planning a transition to the Internet phone service, it is important to check the corporate LAN to determine if it has enough bandwidth that can support voice traffic. It must have enough capacity to handle this new voice traffic without affecting call quality, losing calls or slowing the Internet traffic. To find out the unused bandwidth on the network, you need to assess it at times of greatest load. This would help you determine any additional bandwidth that you may need and the cost associated with it.

3.Determine the backup power requirements

In contrast to the traditional telephone lines, an IP network would need power backup to ensure uninterrupted service and to keep voice reliability high. It would be important to keep IP phones functioning during power failures and this would call for uninterrupted power supply. This would be an additional cost for the organization that has to be considered during planning.

4.Ascertain if the in-house IT staff can deploy and manage the new system

Another important consideration is to ascertain if the in-house IT staff can deploy and manage the new system. For this you will need to consider your staff’s level of network knowledge and availability to handle this new initiative. If they are not able to handle it, you may need to consider a service provider to do the same for you. Depending upon your requirements, you can then choose between getting the Internet phone service installed onsite and subscribing for a service hosted by a provider.

5.Ensure that the timing for transition is correct

To ensure that any new organization-wide initiative results in the planned return on investment, it is important that the timing of the initiative needs is correct. You need to consider factors like, is your current phone system getting obsolete, are you moving to a new office building where no wiring is installed currently, are you expanding geographically and opening up new offices in far off locations/countries or is your current PBX lease is about to expire, etc. All these considerations would help you time the transition and ensure that implementation is easier and more cost-effective.

For all the work that goes into planning a switch to an Internet phone service, organizations have gained several operational benefits that translate into savings and increased employee productivity. Therefore the bottom line is to plan and time the conversion properly.

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How to Never Pay a Hotel Phone Bill Again

How to Never Pay a Hotel Phone Bill Again
The protocol is increasingly being adopted as the standard means by which computers communicate to facilitate VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol. So you can imagine SIP as a common language for new generation operators to speak to connect calls. However, there are no operators there is only your computer (or other hardware) and that of the person you are speaking with. That brings this introduction to some of the many benefits of SIP communication.

The goal of SIP was to provide users with many of the functions and features they typically expect with making phone calls, such as familiar rings, hearing the ring back tone when a call is placed, and the process of dialing a number. SIP goes beyond this however, also implementing a number of advanced features. Despite its’ convenient interface that mirrors that of a typical telephone call, SIP is based on an internet protocol rather than that of the telephone industry. Because of this, SIP is able to work seamlessly alongside other internet based protocols. This has allowed the technology to uniquely establish a user location, meaning that you can tell the IP address or “location” from which a person is making a call, something vital for offering emergency services. It also allows for coordination amongst the various participants in deciding upon what call features will be supported, as well as providing the protocol for call management which allows for adding, dropping, or transferring call participants.

One of the most exceptional benefits of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is its application with Private Branch Exchange (PBX). A private branch exchange is a private telephone network used within an enterprise in which users share a certain number of outside lines for external telephone calls. This provides a significant cost savings to the company because it allows companies to quickly and easily make calls within their institution, as well as save by limiting the number of external phone lines that must be maintained. SIP can extend these cost savings dramatically by offering users free long distance calls worldwide. Once again, because SIP is internet based rather than running over traditional telephone lines, the cost of call transmission are as cheap as say sending an e-mail, that is to say, Free! While PBX is already an efficient use of office resources incorporating SIP into a PBX means taking such savings and capabilities to a new level. Incorporating SIP gives users’ access to free interoffice communications, long distance calls, as well as huge savings in setup and transaction costs. These transaction cost savings are due to the fact that SIP is based on internet protocol allowing for the ability to physically move phones without any need for rewiring or new setup costs. Because that the system is peer-to-peer rather than cog and wheel like hardwired telephony means that there is no complicated setup necessary, but rather users can simply plug the phone into any available broadband connection and without the need for any complicated hardware or software, calls are ready to be made and received.

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The Aim To Standardize VoIP Protocols

Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) is a remarkable technology that lets us talk to one another from our home computers. It provides an efficient and flexible way for us to communicate at work and at home, and the cost savings versus conventional telephone services are incredible. It requires little upfront investment, and you have the ability to travel with your phone number all over the world. It is a technology that almost seems too good to be true. As with any relatively new technology, though, there are technical kinks with VOIP that continue to need refining and development in order for the technology to reach its fullest potential as a replacement for the current telephone systems that we are accustomed to using.

At the beginning of a VOIP phone call, there is an analog phone (in use with an ATA), an IP phone, or software that converts data from analog to digital and routes the call to an endpoint. Along with these pieces of equipment, there are protocols that are employed to get the job done efficiently. A protocol is a set of rules that control data transfer between two points, in this case, from the placement of a phone call to the destination. Protocols are put into use by any combination of hardware and software to define real-time communications performance.

There are several VOIP protocols used at this time that mark out which programs (that transform the data) connect with one another along with the network. The most common protocol being used for VOIP is know as H.323, which was created by the International Telecommunication Union for the purposes of videoconferencing. This protocol is actually a group of several specific protocols that provide provisions for videoconferencing, data sharing, and audio transmission (VOIP). However, since it was not expressly designed for VOIP, there are often compatibility issues with its use.

A newer protocol has come out known as Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP. SIP was developed specifically for VOIP, and it is less complex than H.323. Yet another protocol used for VOIP is known as Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP). It focuses on destination control, and is intended to be used for supplemental features such as Call Waiting. A big problem arises because these three protocols do not always work together very congruently. This is often a problem when placing VOIP calls between different networks that use different protocols. And since there has not been yet developed a uniform set of standards for protocols to use for VOIP, problems are likely to continue until they are established.

Despite the technical glitches that can be encountered in using the technology to place phone calls, VOIP is still far more efficient, accommodating, and cost effective to what we are used to in telephone communications. The direction in which VOIP is heading hints that it is poised to one day replace our traditional telephone technology altogether. As with any technology-driven product or service, developers of VOIP will likely continue to improve upon current standards of VOIP and its protocols, further improving the technology for widespread use. This will provide users of VOIP even greater efficiency and reliability when they want to make a telephone call.

A Dummies Guide to Broadband Phone Service

A Dummies Guide to Broadband Phone Service

Did you know that the Internet can totally replace your existing phone line? With broadband phone service, you can make and receive telephone calls using a regular phone without the assistance of your local phone company. Instead, the phone plugs directly into a broadband internet connection, either cable or DSL.

You need two things to turn your internet connection into a personal phone line: a subscription to broadband phone service and any traditional phone (analog or digital). Most service providers charge between $20 and $30 a month.

Once connected and installed, broadband phone service works just like a regular phone: Pick up the phone and you will hear a dial tone – dial a phone number – wait for the person to answer – and start talking. In most cases the person on the other line won’t even know that you are using broadband phone service; the quality is that good.

Some of the benefits of using broadband phone service include: unlimited calling to the U.S and Canada, free features like call waiting, caller id, call forwarding, voicemail and the ability to choose your area code. This means that you can live in New York and have a California phone number. Most broadband phone service providers also offer a trial period or a 30-day money back guarantee.

Some additional features of broadband phone service are virtual numbers (a number in a different area code, that when dialed rings directly to your main number). Virtual numbers eliminate long-distance phone charges for anyone calling within that numbers’ area code. Most broadband phone service providers also offer toll-free numbers and 411 directory assistance for a low monthly fee.