The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business
Disadvantages of VoIP
VoIP has so much going for it (see VoIP Advantages), it's a wonder that anybody still uses regular phone services.
So what are the disadvantages to VoIP broadband phone service? Continuous service during a power outage and emergency calls are two of the biggest problems.
During a power outage or blackout, a regular phone stays in service by the current supplied through the phone line. With Internet phones, this is impossible, so when the power goes out, there is no VoIP phone service. One solution is to use battery backups or power generators to provide electricity. But that is hardly realistic in an urban residential environment.
Another major concern involves emergency 911 calls. Traditional phone equipment can trace your location. Emergency calls are diverted to the nearest call center where the operator can see your location in case you can't talk. With VoIP, there is no way to determine where your Internet phone call is originating from, unless your geographic information is maintained by the VoIP service provider who passes that information along to an emergency center that supports e911 service. Most VoIP carriers are rolling out e911 service but it may not be available in your area.
VoIP also has problems with sound quality and reliability. Data sent across the Internet usually arrives at its destination in a scrambled order - not a problem for e-mail or documents but definitely an issue for voice.
When voice data arrives in a scrambled order it has to be reassembled or the conversation cannot be understood. In order to make voice connections with the least amount of delay, some packets may have to be dropped if they don't arrive in time. This can cause short periods of silence in the audio stream.
The amount of data that is lost depends on the distance and speed of the connection. Some networks receive a lot of traffic and are more likely to cause dropouts in the audio stream. Creating dedicated data paths is one way to provide high quality audio connections.
All these disadvantages will be overcome in time. There is a tremendous amount of work being done to increase the reliability and usefulness of VoIP. Industry experts predict that as soon as 2007, VoIP will receive widespread consumer acceptance.
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