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VoIP Use Moving Faster Than Regulation

Is VoIP the next Napster? As in, will people deploy it now and worry about regulation later? Purely anectdotal evidence seems to suggest yes. Maybe I've just got a geeky set of acquaintances, but in the past couple weeks several people who don't know me through this line of work told me they'd deployed Voice over IP in their homes. It's not a representative sample of any significance, just another data point representing real, not theorized, use of the technology.

Unlike Napster fans of old, VoIP users will probably not get sued by the incumbent telcos for trying to circumnavigate the Universal Service fees and intercarrier interconnect charges. At the most, they may end up paying more for the service in the future, though maybe not, if competition opens up the market. As Don St. John notes in this week's networking feature story, such early adopters can also influence enterprises, by word-of-mouth back into their places of employ.

And if VoIP can get a thumbs-up
from a crusty technology curmudgeon like the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, you know it must be easy enough for the average Joe to configure and deploy. One of my new VoIP user friends could care less about the cost savings -- to him, the real appeal was the calling features it supported, like being able to set up a chain of forwarding numbers, so if a call came in, it could try several phone platforms before finding the one he was actually at.

Do you have a VoIP success story, either personal-sized or enterprise-wide? If so, let me know at this address. If we get enough responses, maybe we can make the tales a weekly feature -- and put some real experience behind the trend everyone seems is sure to keep accelerating.