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Frustrations with VoIP Phone Services

I ought to explain why I’ve suddenly gone cold on VoIP.

It’s just I’ve watched my own behaviour. I’ve grown tired of the inconsistency of PC VoIP calls, and instead I’ve reverted to using landlines, mobiles and Jajah (for callback). But I’m still using IM to set up many of those calls! The problem isn’t unique to any one client - they’re all proving unsuitable for business use with clients (which is most of my telephony needs covered).

The worst of all seems to be Skype conference calling. We probably would rate the quality as “unacceptable” for 50% of the attempts. When it’s good, it’s great. But that isn’t what I’m after.

The problem seems far more acute on PCs than other devices. On a PC, various random programs start up and starve VoIP client software of CPU or bandwidth. PhoneGnome and Truphone seem to work pretty consistently on their respective hardware platforms.

Another problem with PCs is they’re just lousy telephones. When you hibernate Windows XP on my HP laptop, all kinds of audio settings seem to go wrong and the volume buttons stop working. Bluetooth is hopelessly unreliable, and who wants another wireless headset device to remember to charge up (and bring the charger when you travel)? Or to have to rush to fish out a headset and plug it in when a call arrives?

Much easier to just stick with your mobile or desk phone. Maybe the killer combo is Truphone + Phonegnome - charge everything to my home phone account (no more prepaid balances to deal with), route outbound via the home PSTN line, and let Truphone make their money from offering you another inbound mobile number (and collect termination fees) - or just go for a good old-fashioned low subscription fee? Then use my mobile for everything, and don’t make me think about how the call is getting there.

By Martin Geddes, Founder, Martin Geddes Consulting Ltd

He provides consulting, training and innovation services to telcos, equipment vendors, cloud services providers and industry bodies. For the latest fresh thinking on telecommunications, sign up for the free Geddes newsletter.

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