The Status of Mobile VoIP in the US
Mobile VoIP in the US
In many ways, the US is right for a mobile VoIP revolution far more than other European countries. We have seen for example that many developed nations tacitly allow ISPs to discriminate against various types of Internet traffic including VoIP. Barely a handful of them have instituted powerful net neutrality laws that prohibit this kind of behavior. While the legislative framework for net neutrality in the US is weak, there doesn't seem to be too much of it in practice. Companies who try and indulge in it are routinely slapped down in the court of public opinion and this is a good thing. On the other hand, VoIP penetration in the US is dismally low compared to countries in the EU. Perhaps telcos here will change their tune once it begins to achieve a greater penetration.
Of equal concern is the question regarding the amount of bandwidth that is available for mobile VoIP communication. There are two issues here. The question of data caps of course is one of them. The other is the level of technology that is prevalent. For mobile VoIP to truly take off, we not only need generous data consumption limits but also conenctivity that is advanced enough and reliable enough for real-time VoIP communication.
Availability of Mobile Data
Fortunately many telecom companies seem to be accepting the inevitable and rolling out data only plans that many of us have been clamoring for for a very long time. In part this is due to the evolution of the smartphone that has come to be viewed less as a phone and more as a mini computer that also happens to make telephone calls. Hopefully this will lead to new business models and more innovative Internet services that will in turn prompt the development of improved Internet infrastructure that will eventually raise the limits for mobile bandwidth caps.
Fortunately, we need not depend entirely on the telcos to provide us with the Internet infrastructure that we need. The prevalence of Wi-Fi in both homes and offices allows users to spend most of their time in a wireless Internet connectivity environment that is both fast as well as reliable. Many applications already allow the user to restrict mobile data based on their preferences. VoIP systems have made full use of the availability of Wi-Fi and even if the hoped-for mobile data improvements don't come around, there's no reason to believe that users will not be able to take advantage of such ubiquitous and mostly free bandwidth.
Apart from the onerous data caps, the future of mobile VoIP the United States looks pretty good. Let's hope that it lives up to its potential.
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