Voice Carriage

By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-06-09 Print this article Print

And I could probably use Skype, if I didnt want to call outside land or mobile phones. Niklaus Zennström, the companys CEO, told us hes going to do Skype Out this year, to mend that failing. But I would still run a serious risk of failure, because Skype doesnt ask for a duplicate password when you set it up. So, if you mistype it, youll never know what it was.
The amateur nature of this market isnt what appalls me. I like enthusiastic amateurs. They created the PC business in the first place. No, what kills my sense of hope is the wishful thinking.
The fact is, as Guy Redmill, senior market development manager at Brooktrout, said: "Wi-Fi is more than data. We must pay attention to real-time voice service." But we arent. Folks, the fact is that 90 percent of the Wi-Fi gear out there simply wont stand up to serious voice carriage. Trivial traffic, sure, but under any sort of stress, the network simply falls over. Nobody is going to convince me that someone of Jeff Pulvers reputation didnt care if the WLAN at his convention didnt support VOIP traffic! Of course he cares! He cares like heck! And it was in shambles. The LAN was up and down like the ensign on a Navy ship going through a fleet of saluting pleasure yachts. A hammer drill would have stayed up—or down—more reliably. Click here to read more about the future of the WLAN industry. For one guy working away in a Starbucks, or better still in his hotel room, or for one gal logged on to a hot spot in a train station, it is possible to overlook the awful latency built into some access points. But for a horde of eager business callers, anxious to get through to someone, its just a joke. Except I needed to get through, and I wasnt laughing. One day, maybe, this will work, but lets not pretend it does today. Skypes Zennström reckons that as many as 50 percent of VOIP calls fail. Over WLAN, I doubt its half that. Someone has to get serious about this. Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.

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