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Broadband Calling Continues to Replace Conventional Service
By Michael Johnston

If you look at the telecommunications landscape over the past five years it is clear that VoIP Broadband Calling has taken more then its fair share of the market.  Some industry analysis gave rosy predictions back in 2000 that 80% of all voice traffic would be via broadband calling by 2005.  Well we are here and nowhere near 80% of calls are from and/or to an IP based handset.  Yet about 50% of new lines provisioned today are IP lines so that 80% figure will come some time in the future only when is in question at this time.  Right now about 1.7 to 2 million new VoIP lines are activated each quarter world wide.  At an average of 20 dollars a line across the board this still small piece of the telecom pie still adds up to over 40 Million Dollars in growth for the industry per quarter and that number is growing every quarter.

So what is fueling the growth?  Two answers, price and features and in that order are driving the growth in broadband calling plans.  The big attraction is price for most first time users.  Want to have some fun?  Try this little experiment call up your local phone company and tell them you want the following unlimited calling to anywhere in the United States and Canada, 3 cents a minute to places like France, The United Kingdom and Germany.  Oh and donít forget to mention you want voicemail and all the typical features like Caller ID, three way calling, etc.  Then finish with a request that they provide this to you for less then 20.00.  Hold the phone far away from you ear as the laughing on the other end may be loud enough to hurt your ears.

Well with broadband calling from Packet8 and other providers you will find just that with pricing plans from 19.95 Ė 24.99 on average.  You will also find features that your conventional phone company.  Features like a softphone where you can make calls from your lap top when you travel, virtual fax numbers, local in bound numbers in any major and most minor cities and many more.

With all this going for VoIP Providers one may ask just why havenít the predictions from the year 2000 come to pass.  Again we have two answers and they are broadband internet availability and education of consumers.  Letís take a look at them one at a time.

First is education of the consumer and many people still think of VoIP Broadband calling as some high end techie thing.  However this is all one needs to have the ability to do in order to use VoIP.

1. Plug an adapter into your DSL Router / Cable Modem etc. 
2. Plug the adapters power supply into an electrical outlet 
3. Plug your telephone into the adapter 
4. Pick up your telephone handset and dial any phone number 
5. Follow the voice instructions and enter an activation code 
6. From that day forward you just make phone calls the same old way you always have 

Basically if you can open a box, plug in three cords and make a phone call you are technically savvy enough to use this service. It will be the websites like, and that do the best job of conveying that message that will convert the masses via education.  Great resources like Getting the Most From Broadband Phone Services are also making the basics of this technology easier for the average person to grasp.   If you need any additional assurance that VoIP is the future of telecommunications in the coming years just know that every major U.S. Telecommunications company either has or is breaking their neck to roll out a VoIP Service product. That alone shows the direction of the industry.

The other main issue is the availability of broadband internet access.  Right now it is important to understand that broadband internet is still in itsí infancy and that new technologies are going to continue to drive it. Understand that in many places it is still the local phone companies dictating who can provide DSL on their cables and where they can provide it. The two biggest new technologies to affect the market in the future (certainly the next 2-3 years) are going to be fixed wireless (mostly by the investment and energy of smaller entrepreneurs bringing service to areas with no other option) and broadband over power. 

It is broadband over power that is going to make the biggest impact because not only will a lot of consumers use this service but as becomes available it will also spur competition and reduced rates and the extension of distance limitations by the current providers. In short the current providers will be forced to adapt to remain competitive with the new technologies.  As broadband over power technology evolves basically anyone with electrical power will be able to get broadband internet access from the electrical outlets in their home.

In any event you can rest assured the broadband calling will continue to grow if you are wondering if this service is right for you here are some excellent resources you can check out.

One last note even those with out broad band internet access can get better rates via VoIP Networks.  Two providers worth checking out include 2Speak and ZeroCents2Speak is mostly for the international user with great rates for international calls.  2Speak user log into an online account, enter a number they wish to call and seconds later their phone rings, they pick up and are connected across the 2Speak IP Backbone and pay IP prices.  ZeroCents is a dial around IP based service for people in most areas of the US, customers dial a local access number and then the number they wish to call and their call goes over the ZeroCents Broadband Calling network.  This will provide the customer with unlimited calling for 29.99 a month along with an impressive automated address book.

One way or another the VoIP Genie is out of the bottle and the conventional phone companies have a lot to worry about while consumers are finally seeing real competition for the first time since old Mr. Bell called for Watson.  

Michael Johnston,
Independent Contributing Editor

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