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Hurdles in the Way of a Unified VoIP World

Updated on March 27, 2012

The Slow Pace of Standardization

From a purely technological point of view, there is no reason why we cannot replace the majority of our calls with VoIP. Sure we can use the traditional PSTN network when the Internet connection is spotty and when there's no Wi-Fi available or if we don't have a smart phone but a regular "dumb" for instead – and even then we have options. Think about it. It is currently within the reach of just about every US resident to obtain a VoIP SIP address and make calls for free to another SIP address holder using the Wi-Fi connection on their smartphone. Let's say that again – we can currently make calls for free with unlimited talk time and unlimited SMS! So why hasn't it happened yet? Why are we still stuck with making traditional PSTN calls, paying huge monthly bills and experiencing poor call quality and a dearth of features?

The answer? Vested interests.

It's hardly surprising that there are many large and powerful entities working against the future I described above. Many of these entities are not actively opposing it but merely standing in the way. Others are trying to create their own private "subnetworks" which they can use to cash in and lock in their customers. An example is Skype.

Hurdles in VoIP Standardization
Hurdles in VoIP Standardization

Major Players Need to Get on Board

But even without the cooperation of the telecom companies, there are quite a few large VoIP companies themselves which can contribute to an "Internet only" calling infrastructure. Vonage for example has an immense subscriber base which (if allowed) can use their SIP addresses to make and receive free calls to any other SIP address anywhere in the world. But Vonage doesn't give out SIP credentials to its customers. Instead, it seems keen on making it's service as much like the PSTN system as possible. This means that users are identified by telephone numbers instead of SIP addresses. It's precisely because of business decisions by large VoIP corporations like Vonage that we're unable to enter a world which ditches the traditional telephone system and converts it to an Internet-based one.

To make matters worse, these services don't contribute to ENUM databases which allow the mapping of telephone numbers to SIP addresses so that any SIP user making a call to a telephone number belonging to a VoIP connection will be able to connect to the SIP address instead for free. One might understand the business motivations of such moves, but they are merely obstacles from a long-term standpoint. Companies like Vonage are not true VoIP SIP providers. They're something in between – neither this nor that. For a true VoIP experience, get an account with a hosted PBX phone provider. That way, you achieve the flexibility and power that you deserve as a paying customer living in the 21st century.

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