PSTN versus VoIP

Jeff Pulver and Tom Evslin are working hard on petitioning FCC about things that need to be done right in case of a disaster, mostly for a VoIP perspective. They have been asking others to spread the work.

Actually, when reading through the documents to better understand the petition, I was struck by how much work needs to be done from a consumer VoIP (PSTN home phone and VoIP home phone services) perspective. I chatted with another wise soul and we realized that despite all the marketing dollars and early adopter fascination with VoIP, basic phone service from the bells is better on all counts, except price. If you use a service like Vonage then…

1. You lose reliability of the phone system.
2. You sacrifice quality.
3. You lose 911 service
and most importantly…
4. Update: You can use only one phone plugged into the ATA, unlike PSTN where you can jack your handset in pretty much any phone outlet inside the house. (Of course, you can buy a wifi handset for about $100, but that’s not the same thing as what I am mentioning.)

I did find a way to get multiple phone-jacks working on a single VoIP line, thanks to a AT&T Callvantage brochure. Still it doesn’t address the ease of use issue. I know smart folks like those in the comments section, can do it easily, but can mom?

Now that said, if you use SBC or Verizon PSTN,

1. You lose ability to call from a softphone. (But then not everyone is a laptop carrying freak like me!)
2. You lose Virtual Phone Number capability.
3. You really cannot brag at a party that you are hip to the new VoIP thing.

Regardless, folks please head over to Jeff’s site and send your comments to him about his post disaster communications petition.

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