Despite all the troubles with VoIP service providers such as SunRocket and Vonage, VoIP as a technology seems to be doing quite well in the U.S., according to data from Telegeography. As of the end of March, there were 16.3 million consumer VoIP lines, or about 13.8 percent of U.S. households, and 27 percent of households with broadband lines installed.
It’s hardly a surprise, as a lot new additions are coming from people buying triple-play services from cable companies. As of the end of the first quarter of 2008, here’s how the cable VoIP data broke down:
* Comcast: 5.1 million
* TimeWarner: 3.17 million
* Cox: 2.46 million
* Cablevision: 1.68 million
* Charter: 1.08 million
Cynthia Brumfield puts the total VoIP lines shared by the top nine cable providers at just over 14 million. The cable guys added about 1.3 million new subscribers. Most of them are refugees of phone companies who are losing customers by the day, as we have previously noted on more than one occasion.
The guys at Telegeography say that since the start of 2007, the three regional Bell Rperating Companies (RBOCs) — AT&T, Verizon and Qwest — have lost 17.3 million residential telephone lines, while VoIP service providers have gained 14.4 million new customers. Nearly 80 percent have come from cable companies.
14 thoughts on “Thanks to Cable, VoIP in the U.S. Is Booming”
How long would anyone want to stay with companies that charge an arm and a leg for phone service that comes along with endless telemarketing all day everyday, (with or without the “do not call list”. And how about all those phony extra monthly charges. HELLO! GOODBUY! regional operating companies. I’d suggest that the cable guys along with the cell phone providers get the message as well. People are getting fed-up with all the phone charges that are phony. How long do cell phone companies think they can continue to get away with all these extra charges – do they think people will not do something about it. I think the outright stealing that all these companies have been permitted to get away with for so many years will come to an end very soon! It’s backlash time!
The functioning of wireless VoIP phones is similar to that of regular VoIP phones but Wireless VoIP phones combine VoIP technology and Wi-Fi (wLAN) systems. Users need to be in the range of the wireless node in order to make and receive calls. And when they are in the Wi-Fi’s reach, they are able to do a lot of the same calling functions enabled by regular desktop VoIP phones. When one is already equipped with a wireless local area network as well as VoIP phones, adding wireless VoIP phones can be a logical step.
Wireless VoIP phones are also known as VoWLAN or voice over wireless local network areas and Wi-Fi phones. The working of wireless VoIP phones involves a data network to which Wi-Fi equipment is connected. The network itself can either be independent, or connected to the Internet or the public phone system. The equipment enables high-speed wireless connection to unlimited access points.
Each access point has an antenna to catch the signal from the Wi-Fi equipment and broadcast it in a 300-foot radius or a hot spot. Within the radius all Wi-Fi enabled laptops, personal digital organizers and wireless phones can tune into the signal.
In wireless VoIP phones, the voice is converted into segments of data for transmission from the phone antenna to the Wi-Fi radio waves and then received by the data network. Here the data segments reverse the process to reach an extension or the traditional phone network. In other words, an extension can be carried around.
Although there is no argument about wireless VoIP phones being advantageous, they have their share of shortcomings as well. Fore one, they can not yet completely replace hard-wire VoIP phones mainly due to lack of reliability and the limited functions of wireless phones currently available in comparison to desktop phones.
However the biggest disadvantage in wireless VoIP phones is the limit on the number of simultaneous calls that can be made. The maximum number of calls in each wireless system cannot exceed five or ten. This seriously undermines its call handling capability in a large corporate environment.
Nevertheless, the dramatic reduction in operational costs has made it possible for wireless operators with high quality compressed VoIP to bring the ease and comfort of cordless calling to the VoIP world.
Slowly but surely, it seems, the humble phone line is heading for retirement. First it was the growth in mobile phones and generous “capped call” plans, which have allowed many people – especially twentysomethings and short-term renters – to escape being tied to a landline.
Then came VoIP technology, which let you make phone calls over the internet rather than route them through the traditional telephone network. But there was a catch: to use VoIP you needed broadband and most broadband connections still require a telephone line.
Now there’s a new type of broadband service called naked DSL, or nDSL, which not only removes the need for an active phone line but lets you ditch the monthly line rental charges. That’s a saving of more than $20 a month based on Telstra’s cheapest line rental.
You still need the physical line to connect your PC to the internet but that line no longer has to be “live”. There’s no dial tone so it’s as if the line has gone dead.
But it’s not dead: it’s just a “naked” or bare bones copper line without any services loaded onto it. Sign up for naked DSL and that line becomes your super-speed ADSL2+ broadband pipe to the internet.
Naked DSL has obvious appeal to anyone who has already slashed their phone bill by moving to VoIP, where call costs are a fraction of those charged by the standard landline carriers. For them, a hard-wired phone line – and the mandatory monthly rental that goes with it – is largely redundant.
It’s also a winner for anyone who mainly uses the mobile to make and take calls, and doubly so for renters who may baulk at paying Telstra’s $59 telephone connection fee every time they move into new premises. Naked DSL can be activated on an otherwise “dead” phone socket without a technician making a house call.
But the bare truth of the matter is that naked DSL isn’t for everyone.
“It’s certainly getting a lot of hype and no one likes paying line rental when they don’t use their phone much or at all,” says Phil Sweeney, editor of Australia’s popular Whirlpool broadband hub (whirlpool.net.au). But Sweeney says that there’s still a small line rental cost attached to nDSL plans – it’s just rolled into the overall plan and paid direct to your internet service provider rather than Telstra.
“This hidden cost can range from $15-$20, so while it’s typically less than what you’d pay for line rental the saving may only be $5-10 depending on what line rental plan you’re on. And it can be worth paying that little extra to have a landline there just in case you need it, in case the net or VoIP isn’t working or for incoming calls.”
People will never learn. I guess a generation willing to put up with cellphone-quality connections, that communicates with acronyms rather than rich language, may find cable-based telephony acceptable. Telco may neglect copper enough and fail to charge competitive rates to make its quality decline to the level of VOIP.
But I would prefer that we kept traditional telephone service in place, even if the last mile of copper and switching needs to be sold off to a regulated utility again.
We have both DSL and cable modems and a landline and cell phone services in our household. Cable and DSL services have proven themselves so unreliable that we justified buying both to offset the other’s outages. Some savings!
A lot of those RBOC line losses are coming from somewhere else (notably wireless) because over half (about 59%) of VoIP users still have an RBOC landline according to recent Harris Interactive research. http://mrblog.org/2008/05/20/another-cord-cutting-study-shows-voip-users-dont-use-it-to-replacing-landline/
VoIP is going nowhere if ISPs are going to now have caps on usage. I was told that a basic VoIP call is a total of 160kbps (64 up / 64 down plus at least 32 for signaling, etc). So if I talk on the phone for 4 hrs a day (if you have multiple people there or teens, expect more)this would consume approx 70GB of bandwidth a month. Thants phone only!! What about legal Netflix movies or watching Slingbox at up to 2 GB an HOUR!! With ISPs placing caps on usage and the “Joe Consumer” of the world starts getting overage fees, this may change. Placing caps on banwidth is a dirty thing – once you “need” something, they sock it up your you know what.
Cruzin, a little tip before you start doing math, where you’re clearly out of your depth: define your units. 160kbps is bits, 70 GB is bytes, 8bits = 1 byte. Do the math right and you come up with 8.5 GBs/month even under your worst-case scenario, which isn’t much. Also, this article is about the cable cos own VoIP services which I doubt are capped as bandwidth, like third-party VoIP services would be.