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Rich Lafferty's Journal

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Phone Post: Voice over IP over voice to voice to voice over IP over IP.
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“OK, so I had to do this once.

Now Mitel, who I work for, are in the corporate voice over IP business, so I have a teleworker set at home. I've posted about it before, I'll follow up with a comment later so you can read about it there.

So what you're hearing right now is me going from my phone So this call you're hearing is going from my phone to my DSL gateway, and that over a data connection over my phone line, and over the Internet to the office, then it goes over the phone system again to Buffalo, then over the Internet to Seattle, and as far as I know I just picked up a phone and dialed a phone number. I wouldn't be surprised if part of the middle part in the phone system converted to and from data either. The important part here is that I don't have to know.

I wish I had a dial-out for Boston; I know we've got an office there but I can't remember how to route the call and I'm not going to bother the switchboard on a Sunday night for this thing. But they've got the gear there, so if I remembered the right access code I could originate my call from there and it wouldn't even be long distance, I'd just be picking up my phone, which is a Boston phone even though it's in Ottawa and making a local call and having it just work.

This is pretty neat, because this is how the world is going to change to voice over IP, it's not going to be something big where you install software and the phone system just goes away, it'll just quietly work in the background, while everyone thinks they're using phones, and then one day it'll be more useful to have a data connection at home than a voice connection, and we'll be there.”

Transcribed by: mendel

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Too cool.

You're my hero.

I need to start playing with VoIP pretty soon.

Let me get this straight: You picked up your phone, dialed long-distance, spoke for a minute and six seconds, and then put your phone back down, downloaded an audio file of your phone call, and manually transcribed everything you'd just said into your journal?

Whenever I hear someone describing how some new technology saves time or is easier to use, I quietly laugh and shake my head.

No, I wrote it out first, and read it into the phone, because I've got enough phone-phobia that I can never remember what to say when there's a handset by my ear. Then I recorded it, because I wanted to hear how the audio stood up with data at both ends and audio in the middle, and because the parallel between packet/voice/packet voice and packet/voice/packet DSL was amusing. Consider it a VoIP-geek equivalent of trying to figure out what to do with an embedded board that you ended up with, even though you don't really have any need for embedded systems at home. The transcript was just a cut and paste with a couple of fixes where I know I went off script. Mostly I made sure there was a transcription on there so that no-one else would leave a garbage one, not that we know anyone that would do that. :-)

Besides, I didn't say that it saved time, or that it's easier to use. It really doesn't for the guy with a phone on his desk; the time and cost savings with corporate VoIP pretty much come down to only having to maintain a data network instead of parallel voice and data wiring throughout your offices, and being able to tie branch offices (including teleworkers) together without having to rent circuits. These are huge advantages from the perspective of an overworked corpcomm/IT department.

To the typical office worker, it's just a phone that works like every other phone they've ever used, and that's a feature.

On the LiveJournal side of things, VoIP means that they're able to offer a lot of local numbers for the phone-posting service, which I admit to not entirely understanding but was apparently enough for a competitor to build a business on. Without VoIP you'd have a Seattle number, and that's about it. While the current set of 400-odd numbers is still geographically limited (east coast US), they've only got one VoIP termination service involved so far, and as more are brought on that'll get fixed.

So at the corporate side, it's about saving time and money by being easier to deploy and manage; on the LiveJournal side, it's about providing a service to areas in which it would otherwise be prohibitively expensive to do so for pennies per minute. But it's just VoIP in production, and I think it's neat to see the technologies that pay for my food and shelter being used in the real world for a bunch of neat new things, especially when they're being used transparently. The advantages of VoIP are pretty boring from a consumer point of view, but that's OK, because bells and whistles aren't why it's neat.

Of course, I won't be offended if you skip over my stuff about VoIP if it doesn't interest you.

With HP it's almost impossible to make a long distance toll call. They've got their phone network and their data network, not sure if they do VoIP. If you make a LD call, their phone switches will route your call over their network, to the nearest office and make the outbound call from there.

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