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July 1999

Seems our readers have some feedback for our monthly columnists. Following are some of the questions and comments we've recently received and the authors' responses.

Just finished reading your interesting article (Publisher's Outlook, Internet Telephony� April 1999), asking myself about the actual American market for PBX.

Do you have any issues about the availability of PBX with a complete IP integration? I mean, will switching and transmission of voice be transported by IP routes?

– Gerhard Petz

Rich Tehrani responds:

There are many PBXs being sold in the U.S. today that are based purely on IP telephony. (We refer to this market as voice/data switches.) New players are entering the market on a weekly basis and almost every PBX vendor has come out with a voice/data switch.

The advantages of a voice/data switch are numerous, such as allowing easy telecommuting and the appearance of a virtually connected office regardless of how geographically dispersed your company is. There are so many enhancements that IP affords such as easier end-user programming of special features and add-on products from a slew of vendors. For more information, I invite you to check out Evan Koblentz’s feature on Voice/Data switches. You can find the originally published article in CTI� magazine’s February 1999 issue.

I just read your article, “Moving Beyond Plain Old VoIP,” (Mind Share, Internet Telephony� May 1999) and found it to be straightforward and generally factually accurate.

I have yet to see any wireless carrier offering 10� a minute service, though, without an extraordinary front-end load that more than compensates for the illusory rate. Perhaps I just don’t get around very much and you know otherwise.

I’d appreciate knowing who offers the service you spoke of.

– Jim Miller

Marc Robins replies:

For cheap wireless nationwide service, check out Sprint PCS, AT&T, and Nextel.

I use Sprint PCS, and for $50 a month I get 500 minutes of use, airtime and long-distance charges included. There are the usual taxes on top of this, which adds $12–15 to your bill.

True, you have to pay $100–$300 for the phone, but there is no contract to sign. If you stay with the service long enough, the cost of the phone becomes insignificant. I started using Sprint when it first become available, and there were many holes in the network. Today, however, the service has vastly improved and I have been able to get seamless coverage in my travels to every city I have visited.

I highly recommend the service. Compared to the analog cellular charges of old, this is a bargain.

I enjoyed your article on the PDA being the logical device to carry with you when traveling (Reality Check, Internet Telephony� May 1999).

I totally agree.

I’ve been working towards being totally paperless for the last few years. Devices are finally getting powerful enough to make that a reality.

For example, I use a Vadem Clio with Windows CE Pro. It’s great to carry a small, easy-to-use box that has instant-On, Internet support, and the ability to dial into our corporate server plus 10 hours of battery life. It comes with Pocket versions of MS Office and a cool PIM from Vadem. (Plus, it is just plain cool looking. Check it out yourself.)

It converts all of the Microsoft files I need, so I can carry the data for work with me. Presentations are a cinch with it, too.

If I want to read a book, I can download classics from The Guttenberg Project at no charge and read them on the Clio.

I also carry a TI Avigo. It syncs up with MS Outlook (like Clio) and has some fun and interesting tools of its own. Plus, it fits in my shirt or jacket pocket. I use the sketch app to “write” notes from phone calls. Plus, I use its memo function to download or create data items for meetings or just fun stuff to know. (TI killed the Avigo, but there are great shareware/freeware writers out there. They have some great tools that make life very easy.)

In short, my Daytimer is dead and buried. My honker laptop gets used only to show stuff that is written only for NT.

I would go even further and state that if you’re not running NT or some variant of UNIX, you can get by very nicely with a couple of the PDAs or handheld PCs in your arsenal and still come in cheaper than a laptop. Watch prices closely. There are some very usable PDAs that are in the $99 price point and have some hip features.

I look forward to your next article… and no flame mail from me!

– Michael D. Gonzalez-Rubio

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