RV Satellite Internet Phone: The Good, the Bad,
and the Solutions by Christine Peppler
Internet phone is undeniably a
great service that
allows users to place calls with their high speed internet connection
and to save significantly on long distance and international calling
costs. Another attraction of the service is its portability. Internet
phone users can go virtually anywhere with their adapter or SIP phone
and use it just as if they were sitting in their own living room as
long as they have access to a high speed internet connection. The
popularity of internet phone for both residential and business
customers has grown tremendously in recent years and customers are
reportedly well satisfied.
A large part
of satisfaction with any product is related to customers knowing what
they're getting and identifying their expectations/needs before
purchasing. For all of its wonderful features, new consumers need to
realize that internet phone services are still somewhat in their
infancy as compared to regular land line telephone services which are
over 100 years old. Because of the youth of internet phone service
there are still a few issues that are being worked through. So, what
"kinks are still in the system?
call quality was a concern but quality is now rated as similar to
traditional calls in most surveys. Reliability is also good in general
although new users need to realize that when power is lost or their
internet connection is down, calls can not be made. This can be easily
circumvented however by using an auxiliary, uninterrupted power supply,
and back up communication in the form of a cell phone or land line for
use in such emergencies. However, the biggest hurdle still being
addressed by internet phone providers is assuring that customers have
access to 911 or E911 services.
In 2005, the
FCC mandated that internet phone providers give customers access to
911/E911. Providers are still struggling to make this happen. In some
instances, gaining access to the 911 system is limited but in many
instances the difficulty is due to the portability of the service. Here
is an example. With traditional phone services, the 911 system allows
emergency response operators to identify the location or address of the
person calling based upon their phone number; operators basically
receive the information from a sort of reverse telephone directory
database. However, with internet phone a caller's number is attributed
to the device and if the location of the device changes (i.e. they take
it with them on a trip) the system can not automatically identify their
location. Currently, it is the responsibility of the consumer to assure
they notify their internet phone provider of their location/address to
keep the information up-to-date in the database. Obviously, if a caller
away from his identified location reaches 911 and is able to tell the
operator their location the call would then need to be re-directed to
the correct 911 center for the area. However, this becomes a much
bigger issue when the caller is unable to speak for any reason.
internet phone customers, the limited 911/E911 access is not an issue.
For these users, their phone is used exclusively in one location, such
as their home or office, and once registered their location is easy to
pinpoint. Others maintain a land line or cell phone for other purposes
and would be able to use those lines to make any necessary 911 calls.
Certainly, for consumers simply wishing to take advantage of the cost
savings and portability of internet phone there are options to deal
with some of the current shortcomings of internet phone but for others,
the prospect of using other technologies such as satellite GPS to
resolve problems in identifying the location of callers will make
internet phone services more desirable in the next year or two.
of providing consistent and reliable access to 911 for internet phone
services will be temporary just as it was a number of years ago for
land line based phone services and subsequently for cellular services.
For internet phone customers today, it is important to check with the
service provider regarding access to 911 and to assure that their
address/location is up-to-date with the provider at all times.
About the Author
Peppler shares information on home entertainment and home electronics
products, including internet phone, on her website at: http://www.homemedias.info.