Skype Jumps to Cellular

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Now it is not just the old land-line phone system under seige from voice over Internet protocol providers. With Skype's announcement that it will offer voice service via handheld devices like pocket PCs good old cell phones could get some comp.

And of the comments on how VoIP would work with Wi-Fi nets, Skype's chief executive and founder Niklas Zennstr?m seems to know what he is talking about. The current bottleneck for mobile VoIP is processing power and audio hardware. Analysts claiming that Wi-Fi needs to be "optimized" for voice need to explain what they mean as the whole point of VoIP is that packets are packets once they hit the Net.

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  1. Jeff Taylor is a double poster,and then some!

  2. The double dip is always good.

  3. The reason IP networks need to be optimized for VoIP is that the Internet was designed with a low quality of service compared to phone connections. IP assumes, for example, that some of the packets will get lost in transit and will need to be resent. When all packets arrive then they are reassembled at the receiving end. You may notice, for example, that sometimes that a web page will take longer to load than other times, or sometimes you may need to ask for the page twice before it loads. Now, imagine that instead of downloading a web page you are engaging in a conversation and some of the packets get lost or delayed. You can tolerate that wait while browsing the Web, but not when it is breaking up spoken words. That is why VoIP, although it has been around for years, is only starting to take off. It needed for the infrastructure to be built out more and also for standards to be created which guarantee the necessary quality of service for voice communications.

  4. The reason IP networks need to be optimized for VoIP is that the Internet was designed with a low quality of service compared to phone connections. IP assumes, for example, that some of the packets will get lost in transit and will need to be resent. When all packets arrive then they are reassembled at the receiving end. You may notice, for example, that sometimes that a web page will take longer to load than other times, or sometimes you may need to ask for the page twice before it loads. Now, imagine that instead of downloading a web page you are engaging in a conversation and some of the packets get lost or delayed. You can tolerate that wait while browsing the Web, but not when it is breaking up spoken words. That is why VoIP, although it has been around for years, is only starting to take off. It needed for the infrastructure to be built out more and also for standards to be created which guarantee the necessary quality of service for voice communications.

  5. Current wi-fi networks just won’t cut it on the voice quality issue. Even great quality VoIP service is less reliable than the worst POTS service (your local telco’s customer service not included). Add in the much higher latency of Wi-Fi networks and you’ve got a vaporware product in the making.

  6. Jubal – I’m afraid you don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t even have a land line and I use VOIP over Wi-Fi to communicate with all kinds of people. Less latency than a cell phone easily – and much better quality.

    …and one of the people I talk with regularly has the license plate “VOIP” and worked with Qwest in implementing the technology.

  7. So I should stick to YELLING REAL LOUD?

  8. heh – If you just keep saying it doesn’t work, that makes it true?!?

    My *only* web connection at work is WiFi, I use WiFi all the time at home with my laptop as well. It’s *fine*.

    Apparently some of you just have no idea how much data WiFi can handle. Not only do I use WiFi to talk to people, but I use WiFi to VIDEOCONFERENCE with people (suing MSN Messenger in my case – but Yahoo, AIM, etc. work just as well).

    I watch 300kbps streaming video via WiFi all the time – and VOIP requires much ess bandwidth than that.

    Maybe you guys just have crappily configured WiFi, who knows.

    Admittedly WiFi has a little more latency than a hardwired connection, but asserting that it will hinder the adoption of VOIP is simply misleading because a lot of people do it already – and in my case, I’ve used VOIP over WiFi for years (NetMeeting, etc.)

    I just don’t see why you seem to see some value (enough to continually write unsupported contrarian posts) in asserting that the “routinely possible” is “impossible”.

    I mean, I’ve met luddites before – but none so brazen as to declare existing and widely-used technology (for example, maybe air travel) impossible.

  9. in most situations and implementations, WiFi does not have the latency or the bandwidth to provide good enough voice quality

    this is especially true if you have WEP enabled (i.e. encryption to secure your WiFi network)

    can you get it to work? yes. Is it likely to work large scale? no

    sorry neb, but getting one guy to set it up isn’t the same as “it just works” plain vanilla

  10. This is what I do for a living — video and voice over IP in an educational setting. Will VOIP work over WiFi? Of course it will. Will it work very long once everyone near your access point starts using it along with other bandwidth-intensive applications? Not if your access point is 802.11B (and is anyone widely deploying anything but 802.11B at the moment? I have yet to see a card for a Pocket PC or Palm handheld that offers anything but 802.11B, so for the moment you’re stuck with that on your handheld). I get great throughput and high quality at work on WiFi, but largely because I’m one of the few people using it.

    OTOH, things like this will hopefully drive more widespread deployment of 802.11B’s successors. Frankly, though, I’d be happier to see something like Vonage come out with a PocketPC client so I could make voice calls from my Pocket PC to folks with POTS.

  11. This is what I do for a living — video and voice over IP in an educational setting. Will VOIP work over WiFi? Of course it will. Will it work very long once everyone near your access point starts using it along with other bandwidth-intensive applications? Not if your access point is 802.11B (and is anyone widely deploying anything but 802.11B at the moment? I have yet to see a card for a Pocket PC or Palm handheld that offers anything but 802.11B, so for the moment you’re stuck with that on your handheld). I get great throughput and high quality at work on WiFi, but largely because I’m one of the few people using it.

    OTOH, things like this will hopefully drive more widespread deployment of 802.11B’s successors. Frankly, though, I’d be happier to see something like Vonage come out with a PocketPC client so I could make voice calls from my Pocket PC to folks with POTS.

  12. The issue is not so much a shortage of bandwidth. 802.11b offers 1Mb, which is significantly faster than most of our “broadband” Internet connections.

    The issues relate to what is known as “Quality of Service”, which is in this case a technical term. IP (Internet Protocol) doesn’t offer QoS.

    QoS technologies enable your network connection to know which packets to prioritize. Let’s say you sare on the phone and your kids are downloading MP3’s. QoS gives more preference to moving your voice packets than the kids MP3 packets.

    Without QoS, resource contention on IP networks makes VoIP difficult to accomplish technically — and impossible to accomplish _provably_. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Wi-Fi (802.11) just adds one more thin layer of difficulty to the issue — but it isn’t really the core issue at all. IP (Internet Protocol) is the core issue.

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