One objection to VoIP has been voice quality, not any more!
I recall the early days of VoIP (mid to late 1990’s) when the subject came up, inevitably, there would be some war story how someone used their PC to call Russia, Israel or where ever and how the voice quality stank. I don’t doubt them a bit. But that experience does not translate to a modern managed VoIP service. So what has changed over the last decade?
First, VoIP service providers do not use the public internet. The detractors to VoIP quality of service (QoS) are latency, jitter and dropped packets. Latency, the primary detractor to voice quality, is the time delay of the delivery of the voice packets across the Internet Protocol (IP) network. Too much latency and the conversation becomes incomprehensible to the human brain. Jitter and packet loss break up the conversation to a point where only parts of it are understood by the listener(s). On a well-managed network, these elements are controllable and minimized. Most major commercial IP network operators are actively courting VoIP service providers and must apply stringent measures to support top VoIP QoS. Another detractor of VoIP voice quality is echo. Echo cancellation devices are chip-sized and go on circuit boards in VoIP access devices (phones, gateways, etc).
The science of VoIP QoS has come a long way in the last ten years. In his primer that defined “disruptive technology” Clayton Christensen, noted that disruptive technology is initially perceived as being cheap and inferior to the existing technology it competes with (VoIP vs. landline phone service), but ultimately matches the legacy service and, given additional capabilities, surpasses the legacy technology in the market. Given VoIP now matches landline telephony in QoS (as measured by MOS scores) and offers more features than landline telephony, VoIP is surpassing landline telephony in quality and features.
Frank Ohrtman has many years experience in VoIP and wireless applications. Mr. Ohrtman learned to perform in-depth research and write succinct analyses during his years as a Navy Intelligence Officer (1981-1991) where he specialized in electronic intelligence and electronic warfare. He is a veteran of U.S. Navy actions in Lebanon (awarded Navy Expeditionary Medal), Grenada, Libya (awarded Joint Service Commendation Medal) and the Gulf War (awarded National Defense Service Medal).
His career in VoIP began with selling VoIP gateway switches for Netrix Corporation to long distance bypass carriers. He went on to promote softswitch solutions for Lucent Technologies (Qwest Account Manager) and Vsys (Western Region Sales Manager). Mr. Ohrtman is the author of Softswitch: Architecture for Voice over IP, a number one bestseller on USTA Bookstore’s bestseller list, Wi-Fi Handbook: Building 802.11b Wireless Networks, and Voice over 802.11. He holds a Master of Science degree in Telecommunications from Colorado University College of Engineering (master’s thesis: “Softswitch As Class 4 Replacement—A Disruptive Technology”), a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Boston University and a BA, Political Science from University of Iowa. Mr. Ohrtman lives in Denver, CO where he is the president of Softswitch Consulting (http://www.softswitchconsulting.com) 720-839-4063.