VOIP internet telephony still fraught with pitfalls

So, now I’ve been using VOIP services over the Internet for four months, and it hasn’t been a straightforward experience. I think that it is quite fair to say that you get what you pay for. The level of service on VOIP providers falls well below what you get for an ordinary phone line from Telecom or Telstra. A comparison is warranted here with setting up a broadband connection to an ISP. I suppose all in all it is roughly similar, because each broadband modem has to be configured to work with a particular provider. However in NZ, the broadband infrastructure is nearly all owned by two providers, and modems are specified to work with either one or the other. So even though there are lots of different brands of modems, they pretty much all work without much mucking around and configuration problems in NZ.

The VOIP situation is a lot more different, because there isn’t that kind of stratification in the infrastructure. VOIP doesn’t worry much about what’s running underneath for the broadband connection, and in that sense it is like Gmail or some other commodity internet service that you buy from a range of providers. But whereas cable and ADSL are pretty much standardised worldwide, not enough of the VOIP protocols are standard, and neither are telephones, so there is a lot more potential for problems and possibly a lot more work needed to get a VOIP connection working in a range of situations. I made, now it would be admitted, the mistake of buying a D-Link VOIP router to begin with, not because I think D-Link is any good, but because it was available and had the features I needed for handling routing with the cable modem, and connecting a phone as well. The routing works very well, just like my experience with the D-Link ADSL router I had, but the phone side of things has been a lot of trouble, and I’ve had to flag away the DVG-1402S and replace it with a Linksys SPA2102. Because, among other things, it turns out that the D-Link is “incompatible” with some providers’ hardware/software in NZ. Yet, overseas, there are companies that are supporting these routers for their customers.

It appears that there is just a big lottery as to what will run on VOIP and what won’t. To add with that, the level of support from the two VOIP providers I worked with has fallen lower than I’m used to with the ordinary phone services. The support for VOIP should be higher, not lower, because getting a VOIP connection going is a lot more complex than just plugging in a phone on the old POTS network.