Monday, March 12, 2007

Free calls are still the VoIP killer app to me

Some days ago I had a litte blog comment conversation with Luca Filigheddu, a recognized expert in the VoIP space and CTO of the Italian VoIP provider Abbeynet. He had a written a blog post called „Jon Arnold on why VoIP has succeeded“. The two of them were looking for the reasons why the VoIP business is a success, but they seemed to see it too much from a company's point of view. So I want to add my humble opinion as a costumer and hardcore VoIP user to the discussion.

To me "free" calls as in "free beer" are still the killer application of VoIP. I am a normal user and freelancing journalist who is happy to bring down his costs per call near to zero. The telcos charge me anyway high basic fees for my DSL connection which is bundled with a fixed phone line I hardly ever use. Still there are no cheap DSL only offers in Germany. At least I make free or super cheap calls on this infrastructure, using several VoIP providers and an ATA, so I can talk on my old phone while my computer is switched off. I suppose that many users are thinking like me.

It seems that Luca doesn't like this point of view, although he says that he agrees. His answer:
Markus, I totally agree. But we are still far from the picture you are painting.
Are we really far from it? I am living it! I pay about 3 dollars a month to Voipstunt for unlimited calls to Germany, where I live, the US and most important countries. The rest is just plain internet access costs I would have paid anyway for surfing the net. Still Luca replies:
Ok, but you don't get more. Moreover, is Voipstunt related to your DSL provider ? Have you other services like presence, voicemail and so on ?

Naked "voice" is not enough. IMHO, of course.
Well I am quite happy with „naked voice“ and I don't need more. Voipstunt is not related to my DSL provider. I have to pay extra for DSL. What I need from VoIP is just a phone and an answering machine. Any special presence functions I don't need.

When I don't want to be contacted I tell my Fritz!Box FON ATA from the German company AVM to forward all calls to voice mail. Voipstunt doesn't even give me voicemail, but I use Sipgate's free voicemail: When I don't answer a call to one of my 10 VoIP numbers then Sipgate's voicemail answers and sends the left message as an email. When I don't want my phone to ring I send any call directly to Sipgate's voicemail.

I only use free VoIP services. Maybe I am the type of client that makes the old and new telcos (like Abbeynet) cry.

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