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VoIP Still Needs Work To Work Well

Even as they touted products and services based on Voice over IP, vendors at last week's VON show in Santa Clara, Calif., all seemed to share a healthy perspective: That the market and technology are both still in their infancy, and need a lot of work and help to move up the user-adoption curve.

While it's easy to dismiss a lot of news around unproven technologies as "hype," the premise of VoIP is different than, say, online social networking groups. Now that VoIP technology has reached a "good enough" level of performance, it's only a matter of time before the historical powers of factors like Moore's Law and open standards come into play, and -- eventually -- push most of all voice communications onto an IP base.

One diagram that seemed to be included in every VON presentation I saw last week was the Gartner hype cycle, where VoIP was always placed right at the start. Even VON's biggest pitchman, show host Jeff Pulver, acknowledged that the VoIP market has a long road ahead of it, with technology, marketing and regulatory challenges that will require significant effort to conquer.

Feedback I'm getting from readers seems to signal about a 50-50 split between those who are happy with VoIP today, and those who wouldn't yet rely on it for all their calls. Here's what one user had to say about Vonage's VoIP offering:

"I am a Vonage user in Pleasanton, Calif. Half of the time I pick up the phone connected to Vonage there is no dial tone. However, if there is dial tone, voice quality is OK."

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