What vexes VoIP users?

Joe Greco jgreco at ns.sol.net
Tue Mar 1 09:34:02 CST 2011

> > There may be no compelling reason to do so, at least.  However, digital
> > gear offers benefits, and some people want them.  Others, like me, live
> > in bad RF environments where POTS picks up too much noise unless you
> > very carefully select your gear and shield your cables.  Further, the
> > digital phones support other features, such as the ability to manage
> > multiple calls seamlessly, present Caller-ID reliably (even while you
> > are on another call), etc.
> If you have issues with your wiring as bad as you describe then your 
> problem is with your in home wiring and possibly the wiring in your 
> area. 

Yes.  The problem couldn't possibly be related to the AM/FM broadcasting
mega-station with several towers just a short distance away, and it
couldn't be related to poorly shielded electronics devices that are
made as cheaply as possible...

> Twisted pair inherently resists the kinds ingress your describing 
> if its properly installed and maintained.  Of course this has nothing to 
> do with digital communications since any communication over your wiring 
> will be problematic.

Twisted pair mildly deters RF interference.  Give it enough and the
whole thing's still an antenna...  which is why shielding cables is
part of the solution.

> > I hate to tell *you*, but the LEC's and cable companies like to hand
> > off POTS to small businesses too.
> Of course they do, but the discussion was specifically about residential 
> users.  In the case of enterprise users there are lots of choices 
> ranging from "virtual" PBXs to local PBXs with proprietary digital phones.

If you actually work with small businesses, you'll find that in many
cases, products like TDS's XData or whatever Time Warner Cable's
bundled business offering is called have been sold to small businesses
and they like to hand off POTS.  As in, in most cases, no other option

The problem here is that all of this discourages the advantages inherent
in digital technology.  POTS functions as a chokepoint in the realm of
possibilities.  Once you've converted the signal from digital to POTS
and then reconverted it to digital, there's less flexibility.

There's no particularly good reason that a VoIP-over-cable system
shouldn't be able to hand off calls to an arbitrary SIP device.

> > Your argument:  "This works fine for most people therefore it will
> > work for everyone."  Is that really what you're saying?
> No, I asked what will make consumers choose digital connections today 
> for residential service rather than re-using their existing hand sets.

In many cases, they don't care.  I already answered things that *will*
make some people choose digital connections.

> >> What's broken for a residential user?
> > That depends.  I've got many years of experience with POTS.
> That's nice, but your experience doesn't track with what the market has 
> done.  You describe specific wiring related problems as if they are 
> endemic to in home wiring and that's simply not true nor does a 
> "digital" hand set magically fix them if they are there.  If anything 
> when a user has that many issues with in home wiring the lowest cost 
> solution is usually to install  a wireless set, not because its "better" 
> but because its cheaper than fixing the in home wiring in many/most 
> cases for operators.

Actually, a digital phone does.  Dumping POTS for ISDN BRI eliminated
numerous problems; most notably, the call quality went from wildly
erratic with random radio interference, to crystal clear.  ISDN BRI
was essentially *just* substituting a digital path from the same CO
to the same CPE over the same copper; at&t still had problems getting
their systems to do things like presenting multiple calls to the same
DN on the BRI (who knows why).  So the switch from BRI to VoIP added
other useful capabilities, such as multiple call appearances working

For your average residential user, the idea that someone can pick up
a phone and not accidentally cut in on someone else's call is nearly
stunning; to be able to accept multiple incoming calls or place more
than one simultaneous outbound call is quite nice in some households.

> > That's a matter of the consumer and their needs and wants.
> The market has very definitively answered this question so far which is 
> what confuses me about your argument.

No, the market hasn't.  What *has* happened is that the LEC's and cable
carriers have deemed it a support nightmare to try to support random
VoIP gear, and they'd rather sell $29/month VoIP-to-a-POTS-jack service
because it's more profitable.  That's an artificial constraint on the
market, that's not actually the market.

This is probably off-topic for NANOG at this point; I'm not sure where
to redirect it to though.

... JG
Joe Greco - sol.net Network Services - Milwaukee, WI - http://www.sol.net
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.

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