VoIP Usage Lower Than Anticipated, Says Telecom Expert

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VoIP, Voice Over Internet Protocol, has become a media and technology favorite, portrayed as the service that sends local and long distance carriers into extinction. But according to Bill Hardekopf, the CEO of SaveOnVoIP.com, VoIP usage is lower than expected.

VoIP, Voice Over Internet Protocol, has become a media and technology favorite, portrayed as the service that sends local and long distance carriers into extinction. But according to Bill Hardekopf, the CEO of SaveOnVoIP.com, VoIP usage is lower than expected.

Consumer interest in VoIP, which allows a consumer to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular or analog phone, is growing significantly. But the traditional services are still alive and thriving with almost half of the consumers having no interest in the new VoIP technology.

According to a recent study by Forrester Research, only 13% of the online consumers surveyed were interested or very interested in VoIP. More than 60% of those surveyed said they were satisfied with their existing service and the existing service is reasonably priced.

"VoIP is not catching on nearly as quickly as some industry experts projected,” says Hardekopf, CEO of SaveOnVoIP.com ( http://www.SaveOnVoIP.com ). “Now that broadband users almost double the number of dial-up consumers, people in the industry thought VoIP would really take off. That hasn’t happened.

“There are many households who will not switch from their current local and long distance service. Traditional landline users are also reasonably satisfied because local and long distance rates are now so inexpensive. Consumers can easily find long distance rates under 3 cents per minute, some as low as 2.5 cents per minute.”

But Hardekopf sees steady growth for VoIP usage in the coming years.

“There is no doubt that a growing segment of households are benefiting from the advanced features and savings from VoIP,” says Hardekopf. “We see a significant surge in usage coming as consumers become more aware and comfortable with VoIP technology. VoIP provides an alternative that can generate some significant savings to certain consumers and also give people additional control over some of their phone services.”

Which households benefit from VoIP instead of traditional long distance service? Start out with a cost comparison. VoIP service costs $20-$25 per month. However, broadband service ($40-$45 per month) is required for VoIP. If you have broadband in your house already, you are a prime candidate to save money with a switch to VoIP. The latest Nielsen figures show nearly two-thirds (65.5%) of Internet users in the United States now have high speed service.

If you do not currently have broadband at home, you should only switch to VoIP if your current local and long distance bill exceeds $65 per month.

"The average household spends $47 per month for local and long distance service, less than they would pay for VoIP and broadband connection," says Hardekopf. "If you make less than two hours of long distance phone calls per month, you will save money by getting a low rate long distance carrier instead of VoIP."

VoIP's low rates may not last forever. VoIP is cheap because it does not currently charge the fees, surcharges and taxes of other telecom services. However, that may change with future FCC or Congress rulings.

For many VoIP users, free features are the reason they are switching. VoIP includes call-waiting, three-way calling, call forwarding and other features that may cost extra with local service. A potential money saver is the portability of a local phone number as long as a broadband connection is available. "If you are frequently on the road, then this can eliminate the cost of calling home," says Hardekopf.

Traditional service has the edge in reliability. VoIP is available as long as broadband service is available. If the power goes out, so does the phone. Service may also be distorted by Tivo, satellite TV or an alarm system that share the phone line. There is also the chance of echoes and dropped calls.

The biggest obstacle to VoIP is unreliable 911 service. VoIP carriers are improving 911 reporting, but it is not perfect yet. "This should be a concern for families with children or older adults. A crisis situation is not a good time to realize that 911 service is not available or emergency personnel cannot determine where your call is coming from to dispatch help," says Hardekopf.

Consumers can shop around to find the service that is best for their calling needs. Hampton & Associates created two websites to help consumers. SaveOnPhone.com ( http://www.SaveOnPhone.com ) is a consumer resource that ranks the lowest rate long distance carriers based on rate, billing increments, monthly fee, USF fee and customer service wait time. It provides detailed rate and fee information that is often difficult to find in the fine print. ConsumerSearch.com has rated SaveOnPhone.com the #1 resource for comparing long distance service for three straight years.

For the new technology, SaveOnVoIP.com ( http://www.SaveOnVoIP.com ) was created to help consumers see an objective ranking of VoIP providers based on monthly fees, activation costs, dependability of service and financial stability.

For more information, contact Bill Hardekopf at 800-388-1910.

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