How well does Voice over Internet work for folks who rely on dial-up?
I’ve not had much luck with Skype — it comes across as crackly, jerky and fenerky (I made up the last word.) A company called NetZero is now offering a VoIP service it says works well for dial-up users:
“We believe consumers should not have to have broadband Internet access in order to enjoy the price savings and feature content of Internet phone calling,” said Mark R. Goldston, CEO of United Online, the company that owns NetZero.
While a broadband connection is still recommended for the best voice quality, NetZero claims that users with a 56k modem would be able to make calls successfully by using the company’s proprietary technology it has created to reduce echo, latency and other issues.
I haven’t tried it yet but I will do. Some folk commenting on the above BetaNews story ask what is the point of VoIP over dialup — if you’re using dialup you’ve got a phoneline already — which is easy to enough to respond to. Just because you have a phone line doesn’t mean you want to be making expensive interlocal or international calls on it.
Anyway, this is potentially good news for folk in the developing world who only have access to dial-up. I’m going to check it out. The only problem, of course, is that NetZero folks can only chat to NetZero folks unless you make a SkypeOut type call.
You’d think that dial-up Internet access is not the stuff of sexy business models. Not so.
Always On Wireless is about to launch the Always On WiFlyer, an 802.11b-based wireless hub that connects to a phone line and works with all the major dial-up ISPs. It is being touted as Wifi For The Masses, a term I thought we had coined in this blog for Wifi in the developing world. Still, it’s not copyright and the more the merrier.
Rudy Prince, CEO of Always On Wireless, is aiming at “both computer users who lack broadband in their homes and ‘road warriors’ who often find broadband connections unavailable when traveling. It eliminates the expense of hotel broadband connections, and is great for international travel where broadband is often more difficult to find.”
The device is smaller, according to Computer Technology’s TWICE, than a paperback book for easy travel and also has an Ethernet port, so it can turn any hotel room into an instant Wi-Fi hot spot. Cost: $150.
I actually think these ideas are great, and it’s good that people are thinking of dialup customers as well as broadband. Rudy’s right: There are a lot of folk out there who can only get dialup access all of the time, or some of the time. This would be a neat addition to their grab-bag, especially since it works with both broadband and dialup connections – especially if you’re stuck in a bad hotel room with poor access to phone sockets. I’ll take one.
I couldn’t help passing this one on, though I don’t mean to mock either Milton Keynes, a charming artificial town in England, or Online Journalism, a very worthy project of the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review.
Online Journalism today picks up a piece from the BBC about how British Telecom is trying to extend broadband connections across the country. (I’ve written about this before after visiting a village in Northamptonshire, which got around the problem of BT’s glacial broadband program by building their own Wifi network.)
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the BBC article talked about extending ADSL reach from its present range from a broadband-enabled exchange from 6 km to 10. Testing site: Milton Keynes, a town that could not be more in the middle of England since that was why it was built there a few decades back. It’s a garden city, and its sprawling layout and majestic avenues make it the butt of jokes, and more importantly, broadband a hotbutton issue. not But remote it’s not: An hour from London, an hour from Birmingham, an hour from more or less everywhere.
Unfortunately Online Journalism got the wrong end of the stick and wrote about “Remote towns in U.K. to get broadband service: Soon, remote areas in the U.K. will have broadband Internet access, reports the BBC News. BT, the leading ISP in the U.K., is currently running a test in the remote town of Milton Keynes in hopes of establishing broadband service for the area. The town was chosen because 18% of residents experience great frustration over Internet access, a higher percentage than in most U.K. towns due to the city’s remote location.”
I don’t know whether Milton Keynesians are going to be happy about this. The Shetlands are remote. The Scilly Isles, maybe. Milton Keynes? No.