In This Month's Mailbag
In response to Letters from January:
Dear Tom Keating:
In your response to a
letter from Edward Wollman in the January 2001 issue of INTERNET
TELEPHONY, you mentioned: "There aren't currently any
"free" VoIP long-distance products using just your standard
telephone -- at least not that I am aware of."
I want to make you aware of Phonebridge, (www.phonebridge.com)
a hardware-only product that connects any standard phone to a sound card.
Our customers love using phonebridge with any of the free (or low cost) VoIP
services. They particularly like using a cordless phone, and the combination
of choice seems to be phonebridge plus cordless phone plus headset. This
gives users hands-free and cordless access to VoIP, all at a reasonable
We are currently in discussions with several of the VoIP services [sic],
and will soon be announcing details of these relationships.
Keep up the good work.
Tom Keating responds:
True, there are many "standalone" VoIP products out on the
market today, but the reader was looking specifically for "free"
long-distance and not "cheaper" long-distance. When I say
"standalone," I mean that the VoIP product does not require a PC
whatsoever. You just plug it into an IP network and connect a phone, that's
it. I would consider your product a PC-to-Phone VoIP product.
All of the standalone VoIP products I researched at the time charged a
per-minute rate for long-distance when going through a third-party ITSP.
Fortunately, with the model that Dialpad introduced -- free PC-to-Phone
calling in the U.S. -- this has helped push competitors to offer similar
Although, I've still yet to see free "Phone-to-Phone"
long-distance across an IP network -- that is, someone offering a VoIP
standalone box that you can stick on your broadband network, hook up a
phone, and make "free" long-distance call through an ITSP. The
ITSP's still need to make their money, so as far as I know, they are
charging you to access their network and use their bandwidth. They do offer
more competitive rates than a regular PSTN call, but they're not quite free
yet! In the future when enhanced services will be the
"money-maker," you can look forward to truly free long-distance.
In Response To "A
Modest Wireless Proposal", by Mike von Wahlde (1/19/2001) appearing
I am not sure I follow your lead on this story at all. The cell phone
carriers are unfortunately not at all receptive to listening and have never
been. Their attitude is: "Push these solutions into the face of
consumers because they are too dumb to decide anyway." Just look at how
Sprint marketed WAP phones: The Web on your cell phone -- what kind of BS is
that? Look at a cell phone screen and compare it to a 17" color monitor
and stereo speakers. On top of that they do not provide valuable content on
the main menu on the phones (and don't let users customize the menu either).
No wonder they are not getting any usage!
The telephone carriers unfortunately do not understand simple marketing:
Listening to the customers and giving them what they want. People have
complained for years over the poor coverage, lousy roaming service, and so
on, to little avail. Just an example: I live in Westport, Connecticut, a
fairly preppy and upscale town, and I cannot get cell phone coverage in my
house (and I don't even live in the sparsely populated back country). On top
of that: Most often when I travel to NYC (and the phone is technically
roaming although it is within my home calling area per the service plan) and
people try to contact me on my cell they get a recording from AT&T
telling them that the number is no longer in service. Note that I have
Verizon as a carrier. This really gets me fuming as I use the phone for my
business and am really unhappy with my customers getting that kind of
message making them wonder if I am out of business or not paying my phone
bill. Both problems have been brought to the attention of Verizon numerous
times without getting a millimeter closer to a solution. And you are
suggesting I stick with the carrier?
Mike von Wahlde responds:
First of all, thanks for reading my columns. It is nice to know that
someone other than my relatives are reading them.
My column, in the spirit of irony, sarcasm, and, (as I always hope) wit,
was written to satire the current state of service that providers are
offering subscribers. While some jumping around is bad, the majority is very
well founded. I wrote this particular column in order to show that the
jumping is necessitated, far from evil or wrong. I was trying to point out
that when we blindly jump from carrier to carrier we are performing as much
a disservice as those who stay with their carrier through thick and thin. I
feel it is most important that we play the role of active consumer, and if
we maintain dialogues with our carriers and they still fail us there is but
one thing to do: DUMP THEM.
The title was a direct reference to "A Modest Proposal," the
work by Jonathan Swift during a rather dark period in Irish history when
kids were being put into indentured servitude by their parents. In his
piece, he suggested that money could be made and famines cured by raising
babies to serve as food for the rich.
I found this if you would like to read it.... art-bin.com/art/omodest.html
Lastly, I know where you are coming from on the craziness that is cell
phone coverage in this area of CT. If only our service providers would spend
a little less on marketing and a little more on figuring out how to offer
service to one of the most densely populated areas in the States...
Once again, thanks for the letter. I hope to entertain and inform through
the coming years.
The Editorial Staff at Internet Telephony
welcomes your letters and comments.
Send e-mail to email@example.com.
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