VON God and the recognized leader of the VoIP world, Jeff Pulver is right. It's time to stop the hype and get to the facts about IP Telephony and what it means to the users, not just keep blowing hot air about cheap telephone calls.
IP Telephony is not only about that. It's about next generation services and being able to do more things in different ways.
If it was about price, there is a good chance in many cases the RBOCs could easily match the costs of the VoIP players for most, if not all, here in the USA. First, for the most part, after you deduct cost of labor, much of the infrastructure for PSTN is already in place and paid for. Cables, wiring, switching equipment. That legacy equipment has been paid for, amortized and recouped over and over again.
Second, here in California, SBC offers unlimited long distance for $20.00 a month. When I add up my basic service and some options, the price is about the same as the highest VoIP service offering from Vonage, plus tax and maybe a few dollars more. But, I also have wire maintanence, real 911 service and some features that the average person would not think to add that I pay for, like remote call forwarding, line hunting and so forth. So on a dollars to dollars basis, since the unlimited USA calling came into play, my phone bill dropped massively as all calls, both local and long distance now are part of that, or of course I use either my AT&T Call Vantage or Vonage home phones. So, the aspect of cost savings is only a skim of the surface.
What VoIP offers, regardless of carrier is flaxibility. Can I do free conference calls on my PSTN line? Well three way calling. But that's not the same. AT&T CallVantage provides me ten people.
Can I change where my calls go? Well if I use remote call forwarding. But that's not available to everyone. With any VoIP carrier changing where your calls terminate is as easy as visiting the web site and making a few keystrokes, or with some, like AT&T CallVantage, I can dial in to my access number and manage my advanced features. Can't easily do that with PSTN from SBC.
Can I say, NO CALLS at certain hours and not hear the phone ring without unplugging the line? Only sometimes and I have to forward the phone manually. With some VoIP providers like BroadVox and AT&T CallVantage I can set up call rules and not have to worry, that the calls will wake me up.
Can I make phone calls from a hotspot? With Vonage and their softphone I can. Not so with PSTN.
Can I take my number with me when I go on vacation or stay at friend's broadband enabled house? I can with VoIP and the telephone adapter that the carriers provide. Heck, I've even taken my Vonage box to the UK and France, have friends in foriegn countries who use the phone as if they stay live in the USA for the sake of saving money for their parents and kid's friends. Can a PSTN carrier offer that?
Does the PSTN carrier provide you integration with Outlook, so you can Click2Call? No, but Vonage does, and so does CallVantage from a list you compile on their web site.
Can you use a WiFi phone over PSTN? Not very easily. Sure you can use a cordless phone, but you can't really take that with you to a free hotspot. You can with VoIP.
Can you look up your calling log and see who called you easily? Not with PSTN. You can with VoIP.
Does your PSTN provider e-mail you your voice mail? Not many if any, do.
Hopefully more of the media sees Pulver's very needed posting, and this one. Like Jeff, many of you see these benefits. I know I do, and many more.