They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Similarly, you could say that inconvenience is the mother of technological innovation these days!
VoIP is still something of a niche concept because there are a lot of kinks still being ironed out. We get a little closer all the time to the day when VoIP may well be the primary type of phone service in use, but until then, there are still some hurdles we’ll have to jump along the way. These are the two biggest issues currently facing VoIP service providers.
Service Quality and Consistency
Verizon is making some strides in this area, but there’s still an issue with quality of service. An internet proxy router will work on what you might call a “First Come First Serve Basis”. This means that if you start downloading a file, for example, and then call up a friend to ask a question about what you’re downloading, the information packets the phone call is sending will come second to the packets being downloaded.
The solution to this will involve a mix of new hardware and new software to prioritize the phone call and to send a constant stream of data rather than sending it across in seemingly random spikes.
The other choice is a fast Internet connection that will allow better and faster data flow – like AT&T U-verse Internet.
As of now, VoIP still isn’t quite reliable as your only phone line. If you have an emergency, say, during a storm, while the power lines are down, you simply won’t be able to make a call without a cell phone or a land line. This can be combatted with battery packs and backup power units, but it’s still something of a risk to not have a guaranteed phone line.
Another issue is that, when calling 911, you have to be routed through a national server, and then to a local emergency response station, as there’s no way of VoIP tracking exactly where you are.
Overcoming the Obstacles
Interest in VoIP is picking up and the market is expanding to the point where, sooner or later, VoIP will probably be just as common as internet or cable television.
The two major problems listed above don’t hinder the usefulness of VoIP as something to integrate into your online activity, but they do prevent VoIP from being a primary source of telephone service.
In other words, until these problems are sufficiently put behind them, VoIP service providers won’t be replacing traditional telephone services. But it may just be a matter of time before that happens.