Picture the world of voice traffic on the Internet as a dark and forbidding place, rife with mobsters, con artists and shadowy sellers of dubious products.
Now picture getting hundreds of calls from these people every day.
Imagine your worst day ever of telemarketing, back before the Do Not Call list, and then magnify it 10 times over.
Thats the depressing future of VOIP (voice over IP), according to a report just released by the Burton Group.
According to analyst Daniel Golding, the reports author, low costs brought on by outsourcing and offshoring, coupled with VOIP communications that are essentially free, can bring you exactly that kind of future, unless you take precautions.
According to Golding, current federal laws prohibiting such unsolicited calls are also part of the driving force for those overseas call centers.
"The big issue here is: How much do I have to spend to get a certain number of responses?" Golding explained.
He predicts that most of the calls will come from organizations operating illegally or committing fraud.
He said this will mean that they wont care about the Do Not Call list, or about the hostility telemarketers currently meet.
"They dont care if 99 percent of the people hate them," Golding said. "They know that 1 percent are idiots."
Despite all of the hoopla about just how much of a problem VOIP spam might be, theres little agreement.
In fact, theres little agreement on what constitutes VOIP spam (sometimes called "SPIT," for spam over Internet telephony).
On one hand, youll hear that U.S. consumers are about to feel an onslaught of tens of thousands of telemarketing calls from overseas call centers taking advantage of cheap calling, and using their location to avoid U.S. do-not-call regulations.
On another, youll hear that the real threat is more traditional spam aimed at VOIP systems, or perhaps denial of service attacks on these systems.
And on a third hand, youll hear that the problem isnt all that bad, and that it can be managed.