Use VoIP and die

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Apparently feeling threatened by VoIP, AT&T is running radio ads pointing out that POTS phones are powered by the phone network and so continue to function even if you lose electrical power (except, of course, for cordless phones, which generally require wall power, sometimes with short-term battery backup.) By contrast, VoIP phones nearly always need wall power--especially if you're using a computer-based softphone--and your router almost certainly does. (You may remember this same argument being advanced for why TPC wouldn't sell you ISDN as your only phone.)

Of course, if you have a cell phone, this won't be that relevant to you, since the cell providers generally have backup generators [*] and modern cell phones have multi-day batteries, so you can survive a modestly extended blackout. (Cell phones often experience service disruptions during power emergencies, but that's a system overload issue not a power issue. As more people use cell phones as a primary communication device, expect the systems to get better at handling load.)

What's most interesting here is that it's an indication of how threatened AT&T feels by VoIP. Based on this ad, I'd expect to see ads about problems with VoIP and 911 service sometime in the near future.

3 Comments

911 and power IS a problem for VOIP, and of course AT&T is going to talk it up: it breaks AT&T monopoly on phone, which is vastly more profitable (its only 32 Kbps or so of traffic per active line!)

Both 911 for voip and cell currently go to the CHP or the like, which is notoriously bad. (I had to call 911 on the cellphone once. I hung up after 2 minutse when the guy got his engine fire out.)

OTOH, this is no reason to use AT&T for anything else. I pay $20/month for local only: only used for incoming calls, to act as the wire for my DSL, and for an "in case of emergency" 911 calling line. Everything else is cellphone.

If you have a prolonged power outage you can always charge a cell phone from an automobile power socket if the battery is completely drained.

I have three VOIP lines now, no POTS at all. Backup is a pair of cell phones.

One major advantage of the VOIP lines is that the voice mail is web based so I can forward to email and so on.

The other advantage of VoIP which I'm surprised hasn't been more evident yet, is that it's the only way you'll ever be able to effectively filter voice spam. The part I'm surprised about is that we haven't yet seen an explosion of robo-dialled internationally-originated VoIP spam. If you're on the receiving end of such calls and have a POTS line, you're SOL. If you havea VoIP line, you have a chance at maybe being able to insert a filter into the path.

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