Yahoo has launched the beta for its SIP-based Yahoo! Messenger for Voice VOIP Service in the US. The service features phone-in ($2.99 a month, or $29.90 a year) and phone-out capabilities to allow users to make and receive calls from landlines. Pricing for calling out is apparently very aggressive – 20-30% below Skype – USD 2 cents a minute or less to the top 30 national phone markets.
See Yahoo Voice.
From Reuters via Engadget
PhoneBoy and Alec Saunders are writing about PhoneGnome’s newly announced API. I think this is wonderful and have even taken the time to try out one of the user contributed applications that can be used to initiate a call from the PhoneGnome to a designated phone number (such as a cell phone number) and then to a number listed in the user’s phone book – an ideal application for users that have cell phones with unlimited incoming minutes (or who buy local GSM Sims while traveling) or who want to call long distance at VOIP rates. The PhoneGnome product has such great potential, in my view, and hopefully this API initiative will allow it to really take off.
Mark Evans writes that Shaw is firing back at Vonage over its complaint regarding Shaw’s $10 per month Quality of Service (QoS) fee for non-Shaw VOIP application. Although this issue has, and should continue to have, important considerations from a competition perspective, I think we also need to continue asking probing questions from a consumer protection perspective. In other words, if an ISP advertises a data connection with no monthly caps on data transfer and with a speed with X megs/sec of speed and then throttles it down selectively depending on the amount of use by a particular consumer, should that not attract some sort of liability from a consumer protection perspective? Likewise, if a service is advertised as providing “Internet access” and then certain ports are blocked, should the ISP not be forced to prominently disclose that information? Finally, the same issue if the ISP gives a higher priority to their services at the expense of competing services that a consumer may be trying to access.
Although not directly related, there’s also the issue of DSL and cable ISP providers advertising speeds “up to X” when (1) not every subscriber can actually obtain services at those speeds (ever) because the last mile links may not support it (my DSL link, which is advertised and sold as a 3 meg service, is actually throttled down to 1.6-1.7 megs due to line quality issues); and (2) the speed during “normal” surfing hours may be much lower due to the use of shared media or other network bottlenecks. We should have mandatory disclosure requirements so that consumers are able to make informed decisions.
P.S., I think its a good thing that Shaw is offering this optional “enhancement” – my concern has more to do with ISPs providing more disclosure on what they are doing so that customers can better understand what they are buying.
If you own a Windows handheld or smartphone then you can choose from a number of different SIP software-based VOIP applications and connect to a Voice-over-IP service provider of your choice. You can even download and use Skype. Well, now a new service called mobiVOIP from Mantra Group hopes to bring VOIP to owners of Palm handhelds and smartphones. According to the company, with mobiVoIPâ„¢ patented technology, you can now use Bluetooth, Wifi, EVDO on your PDAs or Smartphones to call your friends. mobiVoIPâ„¢ also is been tested for low bandwidth connections like GPRS and IrDA. The product is currently in beta.
According to a Vonage Canada press release, it has submitted a request to the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to investigate Shaw Communications (an ISP that serves western Canada) for recommending to its high-speed Internet customers that they pay an additional $10 charge if they use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service provider such as Vonage Canada in order to obtain a “quality of service enhancement” which is necessary to ensure independent VoIP service is not disrupted or degraded. The same fee is not separately charged to customers of Shaw’s own VOIP service. Shaw does not appear to have provided any details of how its enhancement works or why it is necessary. According to Vonage Canada, it wants to ensure that “the monopoly telephone and cable Internet service providers don’t restrict what services, applications or content Canadians can access. Canadians demand and deserve freedom of choice.”
Sounds like the CRTC needs to sit down with the Canada’s Competition Bureau and lay down some rules regarding network neutrality.
See also the write up by Mathew Ingram in the Globe.
One of the big problems with VOIP is that it lacks encryption. Some manufacturers do provide end-to-end encryption capabilities but only between their products. Its also difficult to assess how good such protocols really are. All that is about to change.
Continue reading Totally secure VOIP is almost here
High speed wireless data sounds great, doesn’t it. For approximately C$100 per month, you can get unlimited high speed data service from Telus or Bell. But is it really unlimited?
Continue reading VOIP and Streaming Banned in Telus’ Acceptable Use Policy
I previously wrote about Netgear’s forthcoming Skype-compatible wi-fi phone. Imagine being able to use Skype without a computer.
Well, more recently I did a search for “skype” on Netgear’s site but did not get any results. However, using Google, I found some information at a subdomain. Overall, looks like it will be a hot product once it comes out. Netgear claims the phone will come with 802.11g support but will only be capable of WEP encryption. I’m not sure why anyone would make a new phone these days and leave out WPA support. Further details about a release date and pricing is expected to be available before the end of Q1 2006.