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Voice over Internet Protocol Voice over Internet Protocol VoIP is a technology

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					Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that uses the Internet or a digital
network to make phone calls. Because this service is often offered at a lower cost than
traditional landline phone service, many households are switching to VoIP for their local,
long-distance, and international calling needs. The number of VoIP users in the United
States was 15.9 million in 2007; by 2011, it is estimated that there will be 33.2 million
users.1

The largest VoIP providers in the United States are Comcast and Vonage.1 Both services
use an adapter or modem to allow a regular handset to make calls over a digital line.4,5

Skype is an international VoIP provider with 338 million users worldwide.1 Skype users
download software onto their computer, and make calls through the computer with a
special headset, rather than with a traditional phone.6

In order for VoIP to work as well as landline service, it is necessary for the user to have a
high-speed or broadband Internet connection. A second concern is 911 usage; until
recently, emergency services were not able to automatically generate an address from a
VoIP 911 call. This problem has been solved through the use of the new E911 service, in
which interconnected VoIP providers (ones that use traditional telephones) must provide
address information for all users.3 Another potential problem with VoIP service is that it
won’t work during a power outage; this can be alleviated by having a backup service that
some providers offer for an additional cost.1

VoIP is now moving to mobile services as well. In 2007 there were 7 million mobile
VoIP users worldwide, and it is estimated that by 2011, there will be 100 million users.2

Mobile VoIP can be provided with three different methods: users dial a local number
that connects them to a service that routes their call overseas, they download software
onto an Internet-enabled cell phone, or they place their mobile call using a Wi-Fi
network.2

Fast-growing mobile carriers include Gorilla Mobile and Jajah; the latter increased its
number of subscribers fivefold in the last year.2 Apple’s iPhone is getting into the mobile
VoIP business with an application called iCall, which allows iPhone users to make low-
priced calls from WiFi hotspots.2 Through the European mobile carrier 3, Skype is now
offering a Skypephone, which allows users to call other Skype users (both mobile and
home-based) for free.2

As expected, some wireless providers are blocking or limiting VoIP usage on their
phones in order to continue to receive revenues from calls made on their phones. Apple
prohibits software that enables VoIP calls to be sent over cellular networks, and T-Mobile
counts calls made from Wi-Fi hotspots as wireless minutes.2 But with so many ways to
send calls over the air, it may soon be necessary for all mobile carriers to offer low-cost
VoIP services in order to stay competitive.




        
    1. “Cut the Cord: Are You Ready to Replace Your Landline?”, Sci‐Tech Today, 
       September 24, 2008.  www.sci‐tech‐
       today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=12000EO0RWYO&page=1 1046 words 
    2. “VoIP Goes Mobile”, BusinessWeek, August 26, 2008.  
       www.businessweek.com/print/technology/content/aug2008/tc20080825_6
       13129.htm  1076 words 
    3. www.voip911.gov 
    4. www.comcast.com 
    5. www.vonage.com 
    6. www.skype.com 
 




        

				
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