VoIP moves beyond blip stage; site reviews providers (1 Viewer)


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Stand against retrans!!!
Supporting Founder
Apr 18, 2005
DeKalb County, AL
While still in its early days, Internet telephony appears to have a bright future indeed.

Last week, the TIA, the nation's leading trade group for telephone equipment-makers, estimated that there were more than 4 million U.S. users of voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, phones by the end of last year, and that doesn't include people using their PCs to call other computers, which was how this technology got started.

Vonage, the VoIP pioneer, said that it alone now has more than 1.5 million customers, and Vonage has dozens of competitors.

The TIA predicts VoIP will grow at better than 40 percent for the next several years, reaching 18 million users by 2009. VoIP uses broadband connections to deliver voice service in a way that's technically similar to the way electronic mail is delivered.

In fact, VoIP voice mail and e-mail can be intermingled, and a variety of computer-based special services often are included in VoIP. Another aspect of Internet telephony is the multiplicity of providers, with each offering different prices and features.

All this presents an opportunity to help consumers make sense of VoIP using--what else?--the Internet. One comparison shopping service is VoipReview.org, which seeks to help consumers and small businesses make decisions about Internet telephony.

The site explains the basics of VoIP and provides comparative information about different services, including where they are available.

"Consumers come to VoipReview.org for reliable, independent information," said Eric Laughlin, chief operating officer. "Visitors can interact with other VoIP users, read and post reviews, and find out which provider is best suited for them."

A decade and a half ago, the notion of reviewing phone service would have seemed ridiculous. At that time, phone carriers introduced the first new service that hinted at changes to come, caller ID, and it stirred outcries from customers who feared for the privacy and demanded regulations to negate the new technology.

After a few years, people lost interest in worrying about caller ID and other new features that crept gradually into their phones. Now we're invited to review them.

Shortage of RFID techs: The advanced new generation of product identifiers called radio frequency identification is being pushed vigorously by the government and big retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in hopes of realizing huge distribution cost reductions.

Customers should benefit by finding items they want to buy are almost always in stock. But this new technology and its lofty potential could be slowed by a shortage of people who know enough about it, a new survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association concludes.

The Oakbrook Terrace-based trade group that certifies tech workers found that three-quarters of the technology companies participating in their survey said they believe the pool of talented workers for the RFID industry is insufficient.

A majority said they expect this insufficiency will slow adoption of RFID.

"RFID is a complex and still-evolving technology," said David Sommer, a CompTIA executive. "Expertise is absolutely required for its usage to be a success."

A technically sophisticated advance over bar-code label technology, RFID utilizes labels that can send and receive radio signals over short distances. This enables information to be exchanged without needing to individually scan every item, as bar codes require.

RFID also generally means that more information can be passed back and forth than is possible with bar codes, and it allows products to be monitored as they travel throughout the distribution chain with far greater specificity.


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