Voice over internet protocol (VOIP) is changing the way that the average consumer makes long distance phone calls. The technology is rapidly advancing because companies all over the world are now competing to be your VOIP provider. However, there are still some disadvantages of VOIP – especially when it comes to using the technology for functions beyond the one caller to one caller scenario.
The disadvantages of VOIP can be annoying, but are relatively limited for the consumer. The main complaints regarding VOIP have to do with providing the level of quality of service that customers are accustomed to with regular telephone technology. The reason for this is multifold. VOIP requires a large amount of data to be compressed and transmitted, then uncompressed and delivered, all in a relatively small amount of time. Problems develop in VOIP conversations when this process takes too long and the callers experience one of two problems; echo or over-talk.
Standard phone calls function with a delay of no more than 10 milliseconds. But one major disadvantage of VOIP is that there have been delays of up to 400 milliseconds, meaning that the callers won’t hear each other fast enough to make the conversation flow easily. They will either hear themselves talking or they will start talking again before they have heard the other person respond. Although these problems won’t necessarily happen every time a call is made, it can happen often enough to be annoying.
The disadvantages of VOIP are usually tolerable if the callers are using a free service and the calls are for individual, personal communication. But once a network of users, such as a business, wants to use VOIP, the problems become a little more complicated. Part of the reason is that most networks have a firewall; and most firewalls don’t know how to route a VOIP call once it is received – which phone does it go to?
Plus, multiple users create a problem when judging what amount of bandwidth can be and should be used at any time. If multiple users need to make VOIP calls, it can be difficult for the company to know exactly how much bandwidth to provide – especially if internet access, video conferencing or other data transmission services are using the same path.
Overall, the disadvantages of VOIP aren’t significant enough to dissuade the average consumer from using the technology; especially with the fact that they know that the calls they are making are free. But we can rest assured that the technology will only get more reliable as time goes by.