TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community




VoIP Connection(5056 bytes)
January 2000

VoIP: Part VII — Calling PC To Px Makes Sense
The Logic of PC-to-Phone and PC-to-PC Calling in Today’s PC-Centric World


It is clear to most readers of INTERNET TELEPHONY´┐Ż that more and more of our communications are being cannibalized by intelligent endpoints, such as our PCs, communicating over IP-based networks. Think about how many times a day you reach for your computer to communicate with others. First, e-mail became an essential part of our communications habits providing a highly efficient form of communications in our personal and business lives. Our attachment to computers for basic communications continued as our dependence grew on the World Wide Web for commerce and distributing information. Soon voice migrated to the Internet in the form of PC-to-Px calls (by which I mean PC-to-PC and PC-to-phone calls). PC-to-Px simply makes sense because of the advantages of IP-based networks, namely cost, convenience, ease of use, innovation and integration, and enhanced services.

Initiating voice calls from a multimedia PC over an IP network to regular telephones or other multimedia PCs mimics our increasingly electronic communications habits in a number of important ways. First of all, there is the price issue. We’re used to our PC-based communications services, like e-mail and Web surfing, being nearly free due to the highly competitive nature of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) business. Internet telephony exploits this same market dynamic. PC-to-PC calls cost no more then e-mail. Though not free (at least not yet), PC-to-phone calls are far more cost competitive then regular telephone calls. Like other Internet-based applications, PC-to-phone calls empower consumers by freeing them to choose from a broader array of service providers. Competition and resulting innovation in this sector are responsible for the ever-increasing high rate of improved and more cost effective services now available to PC-to-Px users.

Secondly, there is the convenience factor. We have become used to our computers informing us of incoming messages that integrate e-mail text and instant messaging with attached files and Web addresses. Integrating voice into this mixture is a logical extension of our PC-based communications habits. This habit is reinforced by the growing user friendliness of powerful PC-based applications that are storing more and more of our personal and business information — whether it’s our financial forms, to-do lists, or calendars. The information we need today to make important decisions is more than likely stored on our computers. If it’s not, it’s probably not that important.

The value of traditional telephones is dropping dramatically due to their lack of interconnectedness to our increasingly PC-centric communications routines. For example, for many callers, making a regular phone call often starts with accessing a database program from our computers to get a phone number. These callers then have to go to the regular phone, push an endless stream of numbers (especially for long-distance calls), often only to get an automated answering service. Callers then have to start the process all over. They have to go to the computer, get another number for the same party, and on and on and on…

Ease Of Use
IP telephony collapses this process. Accessing a phone number and dialing a number is reduced to a single click of a button to establish a voice connection. In addition to this added convenience, with PC-to-PC calls, voice is only part of the communication being conducted. The user’s experience is much more than just a telephone voice call. PC-to-PC can offer higher audio quality and support real-time data collaboration and video. Imagine calls where you can talk to someone and simultaneously show the other person a document that you can both edit, see the person at the other end, jointly surf to other Web sites and share images of your new furniture or your baby walking. More than that, people who travel with a portable computer, can use it for PC-to-Px communications from wherever they are, using the same familiar and cost-effective tools.

Innovation & Integration
Plus, PC-to-Px is more integrated into our other PC-based activities. IP telephony applications can be seamlessly integrated into organizational applications like electronic phone books and calendars. Users reviewing their calendars can simply click on a button from their PC-based calendar application to establish a voice call from their multimedia PC with friends or business acquaintances to schedule or reschedule an event. For example, an employee can instantly resolve a scheduling conflict by clicking on a button in a calendar application that will establish a voice conference call from the employee’s multimedia PC to all the involved parties in the scheduled event.

IP telephony applications can be seamlessly integrated into WWW applications as well. Web-to-phone calls streamline the process for voice calls between online shoppers and merchants or employees accessing information at an internal corporate Web site. Say, I’m online and checking out a Web site that sells PCs. I find the exact PC I’m looking for, but I have a question that is not addressed anywhere on the Web site. Previously, I would have had two choices. First, I could have searched the site for a toll-free number, gone offline, gone to my regular phone, dialed the phone number, waded through the company’s IVR system, finally gotten a company representative, detailed to the rep my search activities, the computer I’m interested in, and then — and only then — asked my question. My other choice would have been to bypass this nightmare completely and simply surf to a competitor’s site.

Enhanced Services
In the “New World” of Web-to-phone calling, the gulf between corporate call centers and Web sites is bridged. Imagine if the PC Web site I visited had Web-to-phone capabilities. As soon as I had a question not addressed by the Web site, I could click on a Web-to-phone icon and connect to a company representative that would immediately see what page I was on, together with a history of my recent search activities. Prepped with this information, the representative would be far better able to address my question in an informed and timely manner. Plus, the representative could illustrate answers by securely guiding my browser to other Web pages to provide a more informative (possibly even multimedia) description of available products. Enabling assistance in filling out forms over the Web or “pushing” pages to show a user relevant information, all combined with voice, improves the customer’s experience and improves the “closing” rate for the company.

Just as PC users are used to customizing their communications applications to suit their needs, IP telephony applications are more conducive than traditional calling to new “follow me” capabilities. As IP telephony applications become more and more sophisticated, users will grow used to having a single dynamic address that they can program to terminate calls at their home phone, business phone, PC, cell phone, and answering service whenever they want it. With IP telephony, you are no longer calling a device but a dynamic address that is routed to one device or another per the caller’s preference.

For those of us who are used to voice calls from their PCs, traditional phone calls are as much of a nuisance as paper-based communications are to people used to e-mail. The ease of clicking on an icon to open a voice connection to a colleague, friend, or family member is an easy habit to develop. There is simply no turning back once you’ve experienced the convenience of adding voice to the current mixture of PC–based communications applications that we rely so heavily upon.

Lior Haramaty is a co-founder of VocalTec Communications and belongs to the original group that started the VoIP industry. Haramaty has dealt with passing audio over data networks since the late 80s. VocalTec started shipping VoIP products in the early 90s. Haramaty has a multidisciplinary background in the business, technology and marketing fields, is a co-inventor on VoIP patents, and has initiated and spear-headed standards activities in the industry. The goal of this column is to clearly explain issues related to voice (and other media) over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to anyone, including the “acronym-impaired” person. Requests for future column subjects are welcomed. Please write to lior@vocaltec.com.

Technology Marketing Corporation

2 Trap Falls Road Suite 106, Shelton, CT 06484 USA
Ph: +1-203-852-6800, 800-243-6002

General comments: tmc@tmcnet.com.
Comments about this site: webmaster@tmcnet.com.


© 2020 Technology Marketing Corporation. All rights reserved | Privacy Policy