VoIP Memories

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Looking over the state of the VoIP industry on a short two and a half day work week (c’mon now, how many people really work for three whole days on Thanksgiving week), there’s not much new to blog about.  So instead I decided to reminisce.

Once upon a time VoIP was so new that virtually nobody but really hardcore nerds and geeks knew much about it. Back then … we’re talking ancient history here, of course, back in the 1990s … you could make a VoIP call, but you couldn’t place a call to a “normal” telephone. Basically it was computer-to-computer. And it took a special handset that you plugged into your PC’s microphone and speaker ports (remember there wasn’t USB back then).

Next you registered with whichever provider you were using … and you could only call others via that provider. Essentially you were linked to a server that was really a prototype of the thousands of servers that serve today’s VoIP phone market, only it didn’t connect yet to the switched telephone network.

Oh, and of course you had to have “real” broadband – ISDN or DSL – and not dial-up Internet connectivity. I was one of the luck few to be connected on the second ever DSL switch to be installed in the entire Rocky Mountain region of the United States.

So, having been sent a reviewer’s sample of such a handset I dutifully plugged it into my PC, hung the handset on the hangar thoughtfully provided with two-sided tape to stick onto the side of my PC, and registered.  And then I sat for six months waiting for someone to call – but nobody ever did.

My, how far we’ve come … today I don’t even have a traditional phone line, just VoIP home phone service and small business phone service from Phone.com.  And people call me, just as they always did, and we call them. But at a fraction of what the old traditional phone service was costing for equivalent service.


Stuart Zipper is currently a contributing editor to Communications Technology, a high tech business journalism consultant and freelancer, and the past Senior Editor of TelecomWeb news break


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