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VoIP And Cell Phones Eroding Traditional Telecoms 390

Lullabye_Muse writes "Yahoo! reports that telecoms in Europe and U.S. are losing in response to people switching their home phones for cellphones and dial up to cable modems. More info on specific VoIP discussed in latter part of article. The trend seems to becoming widespread, I guess 10 years and all the old wires are gonna start to be taken down."
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VoIP And Cell Phones Eroding Traditional Telecoms

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  • A land-line...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SIGALRM ( 784769 ) * on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:12PM (#10074457) Journal
    "We saw what would happen with Voice over Internet Protocol. Rather than allow it to happen to us, we decided to embrace the technology," a BT spokesman said.
    Smart move. The discount carriers are going to ramp-up competition, and this can only be good for us, the good ol' consumer. One of these days, VoIP will come to mobile, and that will be another milestone; we'll see how the big carriers respond to that.

    I still keep my land-line operational, though... I'm beginning to wonder why.
    • I, for one, embrace our new, technology overl... eh, fuck it.
    • Re:A land-line...? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:15PM (#10074481)
      I still keep my land-line operational, though... I'm beginning to wonder why. Well, it's not really a bad idea considering that your landline is the most reliable. It'll work during bad weather, and it'll work during a power outage, or when your ISP is being neglegent and your connection is down.
      • Re:A land-line...? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SIGALRM ( 784769 ) *
        It'll work during bad weather
        Dammit, I shouldn't have purchased that fancy 2.4GHz cordless piece of crap. Besides, it interferes w/my 802.11g and--you make a good point--doesn't provide me any extra reliability.
        • Re:A land-line...? (Score:3, Informative)

          by tarogue ( 84626 )
          That's because you're using wireless. The key idea behind "land-line" is the "line". I have cordless phones for the mobility, but I will always keep a wired phone as insurance.
        • Re:A land-line...? (Score:5, Informative)

          by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:55PM (#10074742)
          Is it just me or do virtually ALL newer cordless phones suck? The best one I've ever had was a 900 MHz phone I bought about 7 years ago for $30. Except for needing a new battery a couple of times, it has never had any problems and still sounds great. I couldn't say the same for any newer models that cost a lot more.
          • Re:A land-line...? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by jriskin ( 132491 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:44PM (#10075010) Homepage
            900mhz is a pretty good spot for cordless. The higher frequencies tend to bounce around and get absorbed by walls and structures. People forget that bigger numbers aren't always better.

            Personally I miss the days of 3-5watt analog cell phones. Range was about 10x what the little 800mW ones we carry around today. The networks are also about 10x more crowded. The reason they went to digital in the first place was just to get more people in the same amount of spectrum...
          • Re:A land-line...? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:14PM (#10075178) Homepage
            It's not just you. I've lost count of how many we've tried and I swear the less you pay the better they work. Sony seems to be the worst; I did a 9 month gig at Sony and everybody there told me to avoid sony phones like the plague.

            $30 Unidens seem to work real well.
      • Re:A land-line...? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:07PM (#10074822) Journal
        Well, it's not really a bad idea considering that your landline is the most reliable. It'll work during bad weather, and it'll work during a power outage, or when your ISP is being neglegent and your connection is down.
        It WON'T work when you're not at home. BTW, my cell worked fine during the last power outage. Its been my only phone line for almost 2 years, and the only problem I've had is that sometimes I can't remember where I put the darn thing, it's so small. But it's a lot more convenient than a land line. I would never go back.

        When I wanted to get my home net connection, I had a choice between 5mb/1mb cable dsl or 3mb/0.5mb adsl - except that I would have had to also pay for a land line with adsl, so the faster cable connection is actually cheaper. It's a no-brainer (and my IP never changes with cable - an extra bonus for my home server).

        • Re:A land-line...? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by uberdave ( 526529 )
          I have two problems with the whole cable/dsl issue. The first is that (hereabouts) the only ISP I can use on the cable is the Rogers. Rogers does not permit me to run my own servers. If I had a DSL line, I would have a choice of providers which allow servers.

          The other (more important) issue is that CableInternet+Cell costs a fair penny more than DSL+Landline.
          • Re:A land-line...? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:07PM (#10075138) Journal
            Rogers does not permit me to run my own servers
            Neither does mine, so
            1. I set apache to listen to port 8080 instead of port 80
            2. I use dyndns.org to give me between 1 and 5 free site names
            3. I set up apache to do named vhosting for each free site name
            4. I append the port# to any url, like this:
            1. Faster downloading and uploading (2x the speed of Bell's fastest business adsl line) - I know, because I've got 2 Bell "extreme hispeed" business adsl lines at the office, and together they give me about the same speed I get at home with 1 cable line, at half the price.
            2. My IP never changes - whereas with the Bell adsl service, it changes (ir)regularly - some days it changes half a dozen times. I used to have the servers text my cell when the IP changes, but it was getting rediculous. So instead, I just dump important stuff on my home server.
            3. Freedom. I'm taking my dogs for a walk in a few minutes, and I'm bringing my phone. Can't do that with a land line.
            4. Staying in touch. I call my friends, family, and daughters when I'm waiting in line at the store, out, or whatever. And they can reach me any time also.
            My cell works out to about $10 more a month than a land line with the same features (and I use it a LOT more than I would ever use a land line - I've done up to 3000 minutes some months)

            My cable connection is the same price as Bell's fastest service, but the cable connection is 25% faster, and it's always 5mbs/1mbs or better - when I overshoot it, I see them throttling me back to 5mb/1mb - they have LOTS of spare capacity, whereas some days the two business ultra-hi Bell connections just crawl...

            Last month I had 160 gig of transfer on my home server, and it wasn't used THAT much. I was still able to surf, etc.

            Also, the latency is a lot less with cable - makes everything seem quicker. If we could get cable at the office, we'd dump the 2 bell lines in a minute.

            • Re:A land-line...? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by uberdave ( 526529 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @12:40AM (#10075592) Homepage
              Cable is giving me 1.5mb/s for $55/month, but I can't run servers. DSL would give me 3mb/s for $30/month (plus $50 one time fee for a static ip address) and I can run servers. It would be a no brainer. However, despite being in the middle of one of the largest cities in the country, I can't get DSL where I live.
    • Re:A land-line...? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BoldAC ( 735721 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:25PM (#10074554)
      I still have a land line... it's just through the cable instead of POTS.

      We've been using roadrunner's digital phone service since day 1. $30ish for anywhere, anytime, no LD. Call waiting, etc.

      We've had no problems with service until the last week. The cable/VoIP modem start cycling and trying to readjust over and over.

      The guy came out and changed the modems. He said that it is very, very common.

      So if you start losing VoIP service and your modem starts cycling... be quick to report it so they can change out your device.

      I can blast huge torrents over suprnova and talk on the phone at the same time without any problems. I've been very impressed with the bandwidth... In fact, my impression is that my bandwidth greatly improved when they switched me over to VoIP. I imagine they uncap the bandwidth when you get digital phone service so insure both services work well together.

      • Re:A land-line...? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jdreed1024 ( 443938 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:52PM (#10075053)
        So if you start losing VoIP service and your modem starts cycling... be quick to report it so they can change out your device.

        Hrm, my digital phone went out. Internet too. Weird. Oh well, I'll just pick up the phone and call the cable company so ..... oh, crap.

        Enh, no big deal, I'll just dial in to the modem pool at work.

        Oh, right. Crap.

        Honestly, that's the single biggest reason for me to keep my landline. Redundancy. I want the ability to dial out if cable fails. Heck, with my laptop, I can even have connectivity in a power outage (yes, I've done this before). That and one of my friends got screwed by this when his digital phone service crapped out. He was complaining about it to me over IM and the fact that he couldn't even call to report it. Yes, yes, cell phones, but cell phone reception can be pretty crappy in large apartment buildings, and that doesn't help for connectivity, since cell modems are expensive.

    • I keep my land-line going, too. I even use their Voicemail service instead of a physical answering maching at my home, though long-distance has been declined due to the less expensive service I get via my mobile phone. But I use the land-line mainly as a point of reference and emergency.

      Most creditors like to have a land-line number attached to our contact information as it's *generally* less frequently changed (only changes when you move, usually).

      Also, if my cell battery dies, or the mobile phone itse
    • Re:A land-line...? (Score:2, Informative)

      by roche ( 135922 )
      "I still keep my land-line operational, though... I'm beginning to wonder why"

      I will never get rid of mine until they develop a system where 911 can determine my location instantly in a emergency.

      Also, what are you going to do when the power goes out? My landline still works with no power.
      • ? My landline still works with no power.
        As long as your teleco still has power. In my area (Maine), when I lose power so does my teleco (after a while).

        However, now that I have VoIP, a cheap UPS means I have several hours worth of backup. In the future I can see various VoIP devices having built in battery backups.. that's hardly cost anythng.
      • Re:A land-line...? (Score:5, Informative)

        by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:00PM (#10074781) Homepage
        Don't be so sure. A lot of telcos have moved to using Remote Terminals (RT's) in neighborhoods. Basically, everyone's voice pairs terminate in the RT, and then there's a few pairs of fiber from the RT to the central office.

        The idea is to save money; you have to run MUCH LESS copper, since EACH SUBSCRIBER PAIR doesn't have to go to the CO; it also enables DSL services for individuals who would otherwise be too far from the CO.

        The problem: Unlike the CO, RT's don't have a backup generator. They only have batteries. So if there's a long-lasting power failure at the RT, you only get a few hours of battery backup before the RT runs out of juice, and all the local voice pairs coming out of it go dead. Sure, there's still light on the fiber coming from the CO, but what good does that do you?

        Now, in a crisis, telcos actually have portable generators on trailers that they can haul out to RT's serving critical facilities, like hospitals. But unless your residence shares an RT with a hospital, don't count on getting more than few hours of continued service after the lights go out.

        There's generally thousands of these RT's in areas where they're used; they don't have enough generators for all of them.

  • Oh well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Can't say I am sorry for the companies that were once monopolies to finaly die.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:30PM (#10074582)
      ... so long as they are benevolent. For widespread rollout of utilities, a monopoly works very well if they are not so profit oriented. It takes a lot of money and long-term thinking to roll out copper, especially to out-lying areas etc. A hard-assed quarter-by-quarter driven company would continue to look for the best profit which does not necessarily mean taking the technology to the people.

      Of course there comes a time when the monopoly no longer makes and it will fade out. Most customers will benefit but soome (eg. less profitable customers in outlying areas) will lose out.

      • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:17PM (#10074863) Homepage
        I remember reading something about the head of Standard Oil (IIRC). One of his business advisors asked why they didn't raise the price of oil in the winter when demand spiked to make more money and he replied that he had to keep it affordable otherwise people would freeze to death.

        Monopolies aren't always bad, as you said. The problem with the way we see monopolies is that most of them take advantage of it to shaft the customer (on price, service, or anything else). It's when you mix monopolies with proffit motivations above all else that you get in real trouble. A benevolent monopoly can be good, as you said. Unfortunatly, I doubt we'll ever see benevolent monopolies (or even corporations) ever again. They just seem to get greedier and greedier.

        Of course, in most situations, a nice open market if best.

        • Spot on. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hot_Karls_bad_cavern ( 759797 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:41PM (#10075316) Journal
          "Unfortunatly, I doubt we'll ever see benevolent monopolies (or even corporations) ever again."

          If i had the points i had last night, i'd mod you through the roof. This is the most insightful and true statement i've seen today.

          i hate to be a defeatist, but fucking christ, who isn't trying to fuck you these days? It's not enough to have a chalet on some remote lake anymore is it? It's not enough to have 7+ figures in the bank is it?

          i just grow more and more disheartened that there are no truly benevolent companies in monopolistic positions these days. i won't glorify the "good ol' days" and sure as hell, there were sharks in those days, but i can't help but feel that i'm getting fucked, about to get fucked, or have the research to realize that, yeah, i am getting fucked by some company.

          Shit, maybe i'm just out of touch, but i'd hoped that by the age of 26 i'd not be so goddamn cynical and have to watch my back at every fucking turn....like maybe, just maybe, some corps just might give a fuck that i live to next year and buy the next edition. Know what i mean?

          Fuck, i already sound like my grandfather and at least he got be 50 before he was an ass about everything.
          • Fuck, i already sound like my grandfather and at least he got be 50 before he was an ass about everything.

            Its the future, things move faster now.
      • Monopolies ARE bad. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xtal ( 49134 )
        Most customers will benefit but soome (eg. less profitable customers in outlying areas) will lose out.

        Hahahaha! I take it you don't live in an outlying area.

        My exchange was one of the last in NORTH AMERICA to be moved off an old switch that used in band signalling. While some might understand this provided much amusement in my youth, we didn't get private lines until about 1992 if I remember right. The line quality is BAD here.

        Dispite millions? being promised and provided for broadband development in Ru
      • From the BSD fortune files:

        There were in this country two very large monopolies. The larger of the two had the following record: the Vietnam War, Watergate, double- digit inflation, fuel and energy shortages, bankrupt airlines, and the 8-cent postcard. The second was responsible for such things as the transistor, the solar cell, lasers, synthetic crystals, high fidelity stereo recording, sound motion pictures, radio astronomy, negative feedback, magnetic tape, magnetic "bubbles", electronic switching sys

  • DSL (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hlopez ( 220083 )
    Wire will never bbe taken down, since they are the major source of broadband. Here in Mexico Telmex the only real tephone company has invested heavely on DSL and cable modems are virtually a thing of the past.
  • Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:14PM (#10074465)
    Let the telcoms die. I haven't had a land-line phome for 6 months, and I don't miss it.

    Of course, cell-phone coverage could be bett--

    Time: 2:10
    • newsflash: the cable comapanies are now telcoms, in case you didn't notice.
    • Re:Good (Score:3, Interesting)

      and I haven't had a land line since the beginning of '03. Haven't missed it much. never seem to get telemarketers on the cell that I would've had no matter what.
      And looking at the rates for net access here... DSL: 256K: 26.00/mo. + landline: $30.00/mo. total price, 56.00/mo.
      3000k: 45.00/mo plus I get free basic cable...
  • Never (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gotpaint32 ( 728082 ) * on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:14PM (#10074469) Journal
    Never will copper be phased out by wireless, the old telcos may lose dominance, but until the reliability is there (powerouts, national emergencies, etc), most simply won't switch over to a fully landline free solution.
    • Re:Never (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:35PM (#10074616)
      I don't think wireless can successfully replace copper, but coax and fiber most certainly can. I don't think the landline will go away completely, but there's not much reason to use unshielded twisted pairs that have been installed outdoors decades ago when we now have better technologies available.
    • Re:Never (Score:4, Informative)

      by flithm ( 756019 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:54PM (#10074732) Homepage
      I just canceled my local service and signed up for Primus' TalkBroadband Service [primus.ca]. It's considerably cheaper than the regular land line, and the quality is pretty close.

      I too was initially worried about emergency services and so forth, however all this stuff functions as normal with a regular land line. I can call 911, or 411 or whatever just like anybody else can. In the event of a power-outage you can have your service forward to a cell-phone, voice-mail, or even another regular land phone. So I'm really not that worried about it. In the event that the power goes out and the cell phone is dead, and I accidentally cut off my leg, thus disabling me from crawling to my neighbors house to use their land phone to call 911, I suppose I'll just have to suffer :o).

      Seriously though, here's my experience so far:

      The Good


      Works with regular phones, and it actually works pretty good.

      Says #$&@ you to the local @*&!@ telco monopoly.

      The Bad

      Can't use your regular house phone jacks (although if you need a phone in every room you can get one of those multi-set cordless base phones).

      The service isn't perfect. (A couple of times someone has called, and before I could pick it up, the system hung up on them). But let's be realistic, this is pretty new technology.

      All in all, I'm happy I decided to try out the VoIP phone. It saves me $10-15 / month, and lets me call way more long distance to boot. And I'm a no frills user. No calling features, no call display, I don't really call long distance. For someone who has a big calling feature pack and calls long distance, I could see a VoIP phone saving them a TON of cash.

  • Rewiring all buildings to optical fibers or ethernet is just too damn costly, especially since ADSL (or its future cousins) is cheap and works.

  • Cost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:16PM (#10074487) Homepage
    Well I can get a cell phone for as much as my monthly landline service. Why would I bother with a fixed line?

    Add in the fee to get connected, if you move a lot you can save hundreds by having a cell phone.

    Currently the long distance plan I have, it doesn't yet make sense to switch to a cell phone.
    • by Tet ( 2721 ) *
      Well I can get a cell phone for as much as my monthly landline service. Why would I bother with a fixed line?

      Well for a start, I can be reasonably confident that I can pick up my phone and get a dial tone, whatever the atmospheric conditions. With my mobile, reception is patchy at best throughout the house, and is significantly affected by the weather. Plus I can't run ADSL over my mobile, unlike my fixed phone line.

    • Why would I bother with a fixed line?
      1. Calling company customer service numbers and being on hold for a while won't burn through your minutes.
      2. Anonymous call rejection. (AFAIK, no US cell carrier offers this.)
    • Re:Cost (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jardine ( 398197 )
      Well I can get a cell phone for as much as my monthly landline service. Why would I bother with a fixed line?

      Some people live in areas where the reception is either poor or non-existant. When I did tech support, I talked to every one of them.
  • Cringley (Score:3, Interesting)

    by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:16PM (#10074489) Homepage Journal
    In the mean time Robert X Cringley thinks that they should turn the old lines into video streaming conduits [pbs.org] for on-demand programming.

    Seems like a good idea, but there is no way the telcos could sit down and think of doing that. They just aren't that innovative. Otherwise, they'd have been on VoIP awhile ago.
    • but what about the overall quality of the video? If I understand what he's saying, then a lot of the image quality is degraded on elements that don't make up the visual priorty. Just knowing that, many people are going to be watching the video just looking to see how badly degraded the non-priority items are. And secondly, I'd have to wonder how distracting it is because your eyes might still perceive that you aren't seeing a complete image.

      I like reading Cringely, but doesn't it seem like most of the cool
  • The wired connection does not really have a future for audio-only phone. With cell/VoIP lowering their costs, they become a viable complete replacement, with the added benefit of mobility.

    The traditional phone companies will have to add more hi-speed connections, maybe integrated with other services to survive.
  • Surprise surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbiffle ( 211614 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:18PM (#10074501)
    Because, if there's any industry that's bent over backwards to inspire customer loyalty, it's the telecoms. ...

    Yet another example of innovation sweeping the market out from under an industry that's too busy screwing its consumers to notice.
    • Huh? I havn't had a land line in almost a year, but I remember when I did that every long distance company under the sun was calling me to "switch and save" on my long distance. I would ask them if their long distance was less than my calling card at 3 or so cents a minute with no monthly charge and they would say "no", but they were always willing to take my money anyway.

      Phones are a scam. It kills me that people are willing to pay $50 to more dollars a month for the things. To me its only worth about
  • Makes sense to me (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:18PM (#10074505) Homepage Journal
    Currently, I don't have a traditional wired phone at the house. There isn't much of a need since everyone at the house has a cell pone.

    For me, my job requires a mobile phone and they pay the bill. I'm not even home often enough to worry about having a land line.

    I would have gotten one anyway, just for the security, but the phone company wants $80~ (US) to simply turn the bastard on.

    Now, if the telecom industry was to try to lure me back, it would simply be with affordability.

    I'm not even going to start on all the things I hate about the telecom service, but whats with charging not to have long distance? Someone tell me the logic in this one.
    • I should have mentioned, I initially decided on a personal cell phone (before work paid for it) because of the convenience.

      Because my cellular phone essentially already includes my long distance charges I started using it even more then the home phone.

      When I moved, I just couldn't justify the service being turned on.
  • by codesurfer ( 786910 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:19PM (#10074509)
    I work for Canada's largest telecom, and this is something that we've been watching for the last few years. VOIP is being launched for business customers all over the country, and even consumer trials are being held at the moment. I'm not sure that landlines will completely disappear, but the impact to the old style telco is pretty evident. Ah, move with the times, I always say!
    • True. Shaw and Rogers, the two incumbent Cable providers are already in trials to provide a 90 dollar Cable, Voip, Internet and ondemand video service that you can control from your computer, allowing you a Tivo-like PVR ability.

      Canadians can expect to have this convergance within 3 months, here's the
      press release [www.shaw.ca] and heres an overview [tmcnet.com]

      The technology was provided by Siemens with its SURPASS line of switches, and is really amazing. You'll be able to provision multiple lines, virutual PBX's and high ban

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:20PM (#10074518)
    Most copper installed since the 50's is still being used. In NYC, some of the original lead-jacketed, paper-insulated copper phone cabling is still in service. LEC's (Local Exchange Carriers) should take this opportunity to replace their ancient, widespread infrastructure. Imagine how telco's could dominate the boadband market if they could bring fiber to all their customers.

    Contrary to most people think, the major Internet backbones are not anywhere near capacity. Telcos have NO shortage of bandwidth. Their problem is their inability to push the bandwidth people demand over analog copper lines. Fiber solves bandwidth problems and distance problems.

  • A related question.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:21PM (#10074529)
    Does anyone know if one needs to pay for the phone service in order to keep DSL? I have DSL but feel like switching to cell phone for phone needs and I'd rather keep my DSL provider (worldcom)
    • The answer is no. DSL is wholly the domain of your phone company and can't be separated from the line. You need a phone number to activate it.

      There are third party DSL providers, but they're basically renting the DSL portion of your line from the phone comany and and selling it back to you.

      Worldcom is an MCI company, right? If you really feel a loyalty to them, or just don't want to change your e-mail address, it's possible they offer other options (cable?) in your area.

      Or, just keep the land line and
  • telecoms in Europe and U.S. are losing in response to people switching their home phones for cellphones and dial up to cable modems

    Also in the news tonight, rain is still wet, leaves often grow on trees, and Guy Fawkes is still the only person to go into politics with honest intentions...

    Sorry, just had to get that one out of the way... :)

  • The reliability of wireless is not sufficient for critical services like 911. You are not going to see copper disappear, but some of its utility will (in part) be replaced by wireless.

    Kind of like saying that the internal combustion engine offers so much mobility and personal choice that in ten years we'll be pulling up all the railroad tracks. Sure, it replaced a lot of rail traffic but we still need rail for mass transit and really heavy hauling (e.g. coal).
    • The reliability of wireless is not sufficient for critical services like 911.
      A couple of possible problems with your reasoning:
      • It's not just telco versus cell, it's also telco versus internet telephony. Yes, you can make a 911 call on a Vonage line.
      • Traditional telco 911 is not all that reliable, e.g., the automatic address detection often doesn't work.
      • Monoculture doesn't lead to reliability. A system tends to be more robust when There's More Than One Way To Do It.
      • Yeah, you can call 911 on Vonage. But calling is not my point. Receiving that call is.

        Do you really want the 911 receiver on wireless? The 911 stations are going to require the high-availability mandated by regulation. And wireless is very far from providing that.
    • We should be piling up the railroad tracks for recycling. Have you been trapped at an old school railroad crossing lately? There's nothing on the f'n boxes. Just empty box after empty box for a couple miles. Railroad must die.
      • Yeah, over the road transport of large volumes of hazardous materials is sooo much safer and cheaper than rail. Yeah, I'd feel much safer with all those cars full of acids, caustics, oxidizers, explosives, etc. behind the cab of an overworked teamster (not).

        Rail still hauls a lot of volume. If you think the 5 minute wait on a secondary road is bad, think about the delay the last time you got stuck behind an interstate truck accident when it's loaded with hazardous materials.
        • That's fine. I don't want to see hazardous materials on the road any longer than they have to be. However, I think we can drastically reduce the rail network without compromising the ability to do super hauling. Not every town needs an industrial railroad stop. I'm seeing _empty_ trains and when I see _empty_ trains, I suspect some legislator is bringing home some high cholesterol pork.
  • Also in India (Score:2, Informative)

    by leonara ( 87228 )
    With the introduction of the relatively inexpensive CDMA service in India by Reliance, the number of households that have only cellphones is on the rise. This is true especially for young people setting up new homes. What makes this service even more attractive is that it makes nationwide calling very affordable when compared to the regular landline service.
  • I dunno (Score:4, Informative)

    by Judg3 ( 88435 ) <jeremy@pavlecEIN ... minus physicist> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:28PM (#10074576) Homepage Journal
    I've had Vonage now for about 3 weeks and have mixed feelings on it. I've already had a few outages, and while all the features are nice (Such as the network availability forwarding, where it forwards calls to my cell phone if the voice terminal isn't online), my cable inet service seemed a whole lot more reliable before I got it.
    Then again, it may be just the way my network is setup - seems like once or twice the problem has been with my firewall (Smoothwall) just 'locking up' during a 10+ minute long call.

    All in all, if I can iron out these minor problems, I think it will be a lot nicer then a traditional landline, and the price is right. I'm just not at the phase where I trust it whole-heartedly, so I'm glad I have my cell as backup
    • I would check your setup. I've been using a Vonage box in Africa over a satellite link. It has been over two months now. I have never had a problem with Vonage.

      The power company and upstream provider, well those are stories for another time.
      • Yes, from looking around the web some, it seems that it may be the SmoothWall box getting confused - my next attempt is to hook the voice terminal directly to the modem and use its DHCP server to assign an address to the router, then the switch, yadda yadda.
    • I had that same problem till I ignored how Vonage told me to set up the phone/router and put it behind my smoothwall firewall. Haven't had a bit of trouble since.
  • What about DSL? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chiph ( 523845 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:38PM (#10074633)
    The trend seems to becoming widespread, I guess 10 years and all the old wires are gonna start to be taken down

    What about DSL?
    Not everyone will have FITL (fiber-to-the-curb), so the existing copper lines will still have a use.

    Chip H.
  • Two disagreements (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Octagon Most ( 522688 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:42PM (#10074663)
    First, the U.S. telecoms are not "losing." I work for one and it is making more money than ever. Sure land line usage has decreased for the first time ever, but revenue is up as more homes embrace broadband. And don't forget who owns the wireless companies.

    Second, the "old wires" are not "gonna start to be taken down." There is a billion dollar infrastructure buried under the U.S. that's going nowhere. And a century of tweaking has made it rock solid. A new generation growing up on wireless phones won't appreciate the five nines of reliability that the PSTN provides, but most of the population is nowhere near ready to give up the phone line that stays up during power failures.

    That said, the future is certainly IP based. The phone company knows that and will be well positioned to be the dominant provider. The RBOCs and the cable companies are the only players likely to survive in the broadband and IP-based future.
    • I work for one and it is making more money than ever.
      Which one? I track various telecom stock performance and key performance indicators aren't good across the industry.

      Also, some of the most profitable wireless companies are only wireless companies - without dead-weight strapped to the back.
    • I agree. I have a land line phone with DSL tied in and it's cheaper than Time Warner's Road Runner. TW would only do RR with digital cable, and the price of that is $15.00 more than Direct TV(with local channels and 2 receivers). Plus the fact that there are alot of people hooked up to RR in my neighborhood and I have seen their systems running slower than dial-up when the kids get out of school. I do not have a cell phone and don't want one. I like being out of contact, it's quiet and peaceful driving some
  • by nbert ( 785663 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:44PM (#10074676) Homepage Journal

    I'm quite sure that internet access is the main reason we still have so many home phones after all.

    Cable isn't that widespread in Europe, satelite links are quite expensive and they require a telephone line for upload. Access via power lines never really took off. There is nothing which beats 2 copper wires running to your house in terms of speed, reliability and price.

    Wireless LANs bringing internet access to entire blocks reduces the amount of home phones, since only one POTS is needed to get it online, but (at least over here) we won't see telcos going down the drain before ISPs are offering (cheaper than telco) area-wide wireless access for their services.

    I don't need a home phone at all, but my favorite monopolistic telco offers me DSL for a reasonable price. They also charge me for a mandatory phone connection using the same line, but it's still much cheaper than their closest competitor.
  • I have wireless ISP access (~3 mbs, nothing great) and have been using Vonage for over a year. I now forget I have it which to me is the litmus test for a replacement technology.

    What's not to like? No more evil phone company, added features and a BIG savings.

    I just don't see how the old school bells are going to survive, and frankly I don't care.
  • They could compete if they wanted to, but they'd rather charge insane prices.

    Now, this may be a painful period for telcos, but I don't think they'll die off entirely. Even if you are using VoIP, you're getting internet access from somewhere, and it's almost certainly not from your cell towers.

    So, what's the alternative to telcos for internet access? Cable companies are an option, but they tend to be quite terrible in many (most?) areas, so it's most likely that telcos will remain as the company with the
  • by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:53PM (#10074726)
    I just moved. When I was living in an area that was kind of far out of town, I did not have cell coverage at my house. Now, we just moved and we do. So, no landline phone! My wife and I just use our cell phones. Of course, we still have our old numbers which are in a different area code. That freaks people our when we order pizza.

    We used to have cable modem and used 802.11b for the past few years. Now, we have a neighbor who has a wireless network called "Linksys" with no WEP key set. So, we don't pay for internet anymore either. I suppose the day they put a wep key on it or shut it down, I will order either cable or DSL (we actually can get either where we live.)

    We still have to pay for our cell phones and for electricity, but we're saving like $200 a month without phone or broadband. (Math check: Our old cable company wouldn't sell us broadband without digitial cable and the total price was like $100 a month. Plus, phone bill including long distance since the cell phones wouldn't work from the house and all our relatives live in other states.)

  • by methano ( 519830 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:56PM (#10074749)
    We just switched over to VOIP with Time Warner, who also sends us cable TV and Road Runner. They get a big check from us every month. It seems to work about the same except that all those features on the phone (Caller ID etc.) now work. Oddly enough, my old local company sent me a letter yesterday offering about the same deal. Why didn't they send me the offer while I was still a customer?
    It reminded me of something that happened a few years ago at work.
    We used to subscribe to a Derwent patent publication that listed new patents in the pharmaceutical industry. It costs about $30K a year. I called and asked if they could give us a little break on the price. "No Way," they said. So we cancelled the subscription. A few weeks later, they call up and said that there was a mistake and they could give it to us for only $800/yr. I said "No Way." Pricing in this information busness is funny stuff.
  • by RabidChicken ( 684107 ) <andrew@[ ]rewstuckey.com ['and' in gap]> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @09:57PM (#10074755) Homepage
    *gasp* businesses adapting to new technology!
  • Nah. (Score:3, Informative)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:05PM (#10074812) Homepage
    I guess 10 years and all the old wires are gonna start to be taken down."

    I still need da phone line for my DSL. Cable is way too unreliable in my area. The folks that run it use dodgy amplifiers apparently. Phone line infrastructure was terribly expensive to put up and maintain, and it has lots of other uses (DSL etc). They will never tear it down voluntarily.

  • by strook ( 634807 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:07PM (#10074819)
    The usual progress seems to be new technical innovations start off getting sneakily shafted by the companies that are afraid of change, and then when other companies realize they could profit, they back the innovation. Like TiVo - early on DVR technology looked like it might be squashed by content owners' legal threats, but now that DirecTV and the cable companies have realized DVRs help them make money, there's some big legal guns on the side of the good guys. (As I like to think of it, at least.)

    The problem here is that right now I get my internet access from... SBC, same as my phone company. In a better world the ISPs would have a financial incentive to back VoIP against the phone companies' objections, and there could be a huge corporate battle ending up in consumer benefit. Doesn't really work when the ISP and the phone company are one and the same.

    I guess Comcast (or your local internet-via-cable company) could start bundling VoIP with their broadband access, competing with the DSL people who already offer those bundles. Makes sense to me, although I still wish the providers of the services were different groups....

    can't think any more... brain hurts... color scheme too ugly...

  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:32PM (#10074947) Homepage Journal
    has anyone here tried to establish a dialup connection over VOIP?

    Like those people who run emulators within emulators within emulators, something like this would have a pretty high geek-chic factor.

    • Yup, and it works so-so.

      You must use a codec that does not do any kind of compression or acoustic fanagling or it just won't work. I have been sending faxes in and out of our office (up to two at a time in either direction) for the last 3 months now without issue, so long as it only goes one hop to our PRI downtown. Faxes through our VOIP provider are spotty at best but we also have a Canon IR3300 fax machine as our primary fax device... they're the pickiest bitches known to the faxing industry.

  • Voice modems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Writer ( 746272 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @10:53PM (#10075059)

    I'm actually surprised that voice modems haven't become popular and that answering machine capabilities haven't become standardised on computers the way faxing has. I've had modems that worked as answering machines before over the past decade, but the software was always a third-party application that wasn't integrated with the OS like faxing, and it never became one surprisingly. I presume the main reason for this is because people would tend to have a dedicated data line for the modem and have their voice lines separate. But I also think another reason is that people tend to use the voicemail of their mobile phones now more than answering machines.

    With the popularity of broadband, dial-up modems on computers are simply becoming an option used more for faxes or for using a dial-up connection when the broadband connection is down. Macs used to support audio line-in from the modem port, but they dropped that feature for some reason, and it seems to have gone unnoticed. Having an audio line-in function for a dial-up modem would be a precursor to using it as an answering machine. One of the problems of having a fax is that people usually use a dedicated line for one rather than having the same number for both voice and fax. That's two phone bills, and there's no reason for it to be that way. I always thought that computers would merge voice, fax, and data into one phone line. But if you use a mobile phone for voicemail, then you won't be able to link it to your computer.

  • oldskool (Score:4, Funny)

    by celeritas_2 ( 750289 ) <ranmyaku@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:19PM (#10075211)
    I happen to like my landline service. When I'm gone or sleeping, absolutely no one can annoy me with their problems, requests, or irritating want to keep in touch, just not on a same-room basis. Also, I find there's something irresistably sexy about being completely lost, I might actually have to [gasp] talk to a real person and not a vibrating piece of cancer plastic making friends with and sterilizing my balls. Slashdot probably isn't the correct place to talk about wanting to be disconnected sometimes, but what are YOU going to do about it eh?
  • by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:25PM (#10075235)
    Telephone and power companies are forced by the government to provide service to even the most remote areas without charging more money for service in the remote areas. So these companies predict growth and invest in building up areas mostly because they 'have to' but they are able to charge enough to everyone to ofset this problem.

    Now you think 'poor poor big company' because they're forced to service those remote areas and now they aren't getting the growth they have anticipated? WRONG...

    These companies are not forced to stick to old technologies. They have decided to stick to technologies for as long as they can, but the telco company could be offering much better solutions to everyone but they were 'comfortable' with the situation. They wanted to milk the old technology for all it had. Instead of spending all the resources trying to install new technologies in everyone's homes, they were trying to squish the new technology. Remember all those attempts at lobbying for internet taxes and things? Those were attempts to make internet more expensive than typical communications so they wouldn't have to change their ways. Their thoughts were, "Why install new technology when we haven't made our projected return on your current technology?". The answer is obviously, "To save your company from being obsoleted by the companies installing the new technologies."

  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <.deviladv. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @11:28PM (#10075249) Homepage
    This is a paradigm shift, this is not the death of an industry. I've been seeing small peerings of VoIP on websites, Vonage has been leading the charge, and now I'm seeing Comcast, AT+T, MCI, and Verizon all blasting their VoIP offerings all of a sudden. The companies aren't dying, they are just switching their technology. Verizon has the DSL network and is parsing it out to all these DSL providers. Comcast has it's network. Now the othr telecomms are getting in on the act and catching up to Vonage. They know they have to join this wave or die, but of course they will join up and flourish.

    What's great about this VoIP revolution is that this frees the phone number and service from the physical network. You buy the IP first, then connect your VoIP to it. And you can switch VoIPs and keep your number. Creating layers of technology each with different tasks opens up possibilities not seen before and will be a huge boob to the customer.

    The telecomms won't be at the front, they aren't leaders, but they are never far behind. They'll charge a little more, try to buy up Vonage and the other companies, then consolidate into powerhouses again. Vonage might grow big enough to be a new telecomm, like T-Mobile and Cingular almost are.

    My prediction is that it won't be until the NEXT revolution that small companies and mom and pop telecomms pop up and provide kickass service and competition. That revolution will be long range wireless networking.
  • by valmont ( 3573 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @01:45AM (#10075790) Homepage Journal

    The whole "last mile to the user's home" issue is very soon guna become less and less of an issue with WiMAX and WiFi.

    The city where i live just deployed [blogspot.com] free wifi internet access to most residents, with its reach to increase overtime.

    IP is insanely powerful. Bandwidth is increasing, and compression algorithms are only getting better [apple.com].

    I'm looking forward to a future where all consumer-telco, cable and satellite companies will be replaced by a large multitude of ISPs.

  • Wow... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mac Degger ( 576336 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @03:03AM (#10076014) Journal
    And which real tech-savy person didn't anticipate this?

    Cell phone are the intermediate future, and VoIP (in the real sense, not in the sense that they're still connected at all to the copper wires, but just connected to the real internet) or just plain Data over IP ('cos what else is Voice?) is the future.

    Especially with wireless becoming cheaper and cheaper; what's gonna evolve is a free system of comms (wifi mesh, whatever) run by hobbyists, where the only role the telecoms are going to play is maintaining the fibreoptics between continents, large companies and cities which aren't easily connected by wireless (in all it's forms).

    What's really surprising is that the telco's didn't see this coming: I have a friend who worked for the largest (formerly only) telco in the netherlands, and hwen I told him about this, his response was..."but....but...that's illegal!?". He really didn't understand the power of public airwaves...and he was in strategic planning too!

    The only danger of course is that the telco's will lobby gov'ment to restrict private access to public bands....
  • New rules (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mhollis ( 727905 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:58AM (#10077480) Journal

    The old telecom companies are embracing this technology for several reasons:

    1. The taxing structure is different or non-existent (collecting and paying taxes costs money).

    2. The consumer wants to head this direction (anyone remember the age of passenger rail in the US?).
      It is truly cheaper to provide this service, it's more efficient and may mean increased profitability.
      They do know how to provide telephony and know that their customers will trust their offering.
      They have not totally besmirched their name yet.

    It has never cost telephone companies anything more to send a telephone call across the country or next door. The higher prices they were allowed (by governments) to charge for "long distance" were allowed to enable them to build their infrastructure. The higher prices we pay for cellular service reflects the need of cell phone companies to build out infrastructure so that they can serve their customers everywhere.

    Now, telephone companies are finding that there is not just their infrastructure, but a whole new and cheaper infrastructure out there that was built without their investment. Some was paid for by the governments, some was paid for by private industry or other telephone companies. And they can use it -- free! Imagine the increases in profitability when you can sell a service that costs you little or nothing.

    Here in the US, one of the reasons why VOIP from telecom companies is so cheap is because the playing field changed. They set up different companies for VOIP and cellular service and these companies don't have labor unions. So not only is the infrastructure cheaper, but labor is cheaper.

    I note that BT immediately jumped on this bandwagon. They are, perhaps, the most hated company in the UK because they have held a monopoly for so long and refuse to bring pricing down to more sane levels in favor of keeping profits up. I kind of wonder at BT because they have generated a great deal of animosity in the public they "serve" in exchange for profits that are not visibly plowed into improved infrastructure.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents