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Reality Check
March 2004

Robert Vahid Hashemian Broadband At Home? Still Mulling.


I admit it. I�m stingy. I haven�t bought a pair of shoes in a couple of years and my closet space is mostly air. My favorite exercises are jogging outside (weather conditions are irrelevant), hiking a mountain, and swimming in a lake or ocean (none of which come with membership dues). My two cars are the jokes of the company, not to mention what my family thinks of them. This morning, commuting to work with the slightly better car, the engine just gave up on me. When I called my wife from the service station for a lift (yes, I don�t have a cell phone), I heard a loud cheer in the background. Turns out the kids� prayers had been answered and they thought the car�s demise meant getting a new car. No dice. I�m intent on having the car repaired and getting it back on the road, my kids� happiness notwithstanding.

And so, while many in my circle have jumped on the broadband bandwagon (most of them in the form of cable modem), I�m still debating whether I should give into temptation and finally take the leap. It�s not like I don�t want to have a zippy connection to the Internet, it�s not like I haven�t checked the availability in my area a hundred times, it�s not like I haven�t called the Cable and DSL providers� 800 numbers multiple times to ask for prices (and politely have said, �Let me sleep on it�), and certainly it�s not that I�m a technophobe, afraid of setting up the equipment.

What�s holding me back is � you guessed it � the price. At about $40 per month, it seems like a reasonable deal at first, until I do the simple math (tax and fees included) and end up somewhere near $600 per year. That�s a large sum to me, and unless I can recover that amount in some form (actually or emotionally), I can�t justify signing that contract. I know what most of you thinking. Cut your landline phone, cancel your long-distance service and sign up with one of the reputable ITSPs like Vonage, Packet8, or VoicePulse. Well, most of my calls are to Europe and only one of the ITSPs was offering a flat-fee service to Europe and the price wasn�t exactly must-have. None of them could port my home number (rural living does have its downside), and finally I wasn�t so sure about hooking the service up to my alarm system. So for now, the landline must remain.
Maybe I am over-analyzing, but I�m not alone. This magazine among others has advocated Internet telephony for many years. After a number of slow starts, the equipment vendors and the service providers finally started to deliver on the promise of inexpensive, reliable VoIP service and business migration to VoIP has begun en-masse.
By the same token, the consumer (i.e., residential) market needs to witness competitive pricing and reliable service from broadband service providers as well as ITSPs before they embark on their own personal migrations.
Make no mistake about it. This will happen sooner or later, but until it does I�m going to sleep on it.

Occasionally, I like to share my thoughts on books that INTERNET TELEPHONY� readers may find useful. Voice over IP Fundamentals, by Jonathan Davidson, James Peters, Brian Gracely (Cisco Press, 2002) is an introductory book giving the reader a background in technologies behind today�s telecommunications and the telecom/datacom convergence. It�s a good reference for datacom people who need some help navigating the telecom world and to a lesser degree for the reverse.
Concepts and key technologies are explained adequately, although some less clearly than others. I wish there more examples of real world applications and less usage of Cisco equipment, although the latter can be forgiven. The book is published by Cisco Press, after all. Be prepared to read some of the sections multiple times. Some of the complex or esoteric concepts will take time to sink in. An educational read overall. c

Robert Vahid Hashemian provides us with a healthy dose of reality every other month in his Reality Check column. Robert is Webmaster for TMCnet.com -- your online resource for CTI, Internet telephony, and call center solutions. He is also the author of the recently published Financial Markets For The Rest Of Us. He can be reached at [email protected].

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or HTML format), please visit Reprint Management Services online or contact a representative via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-290-5460.

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