eFiles: January 15, 2001

E-calls common within 5 years

By 2006, nearly one-quarter of all Internet users will regularly make VOIP phone calls from their PCs, according to a report released this month by IT and telecommunications industry research company Ovum Ltd., in Boston. Some 166 million Internet users, or 23 percent of the current worldwide total, are expected to take advantage of e-calling as services become more widely available and easier to use, the report said.

Ovum estimates that currently only 5 percent of Internet users regularly take advantage of voice-over-IP capabilities in their PCs. World revenues for VOIP calling could reach $6.2 billion by 2005, with one-third of the revenues generated from advertising, the report said.

Lack of quality can silence Web talk

Before voice over IP takes off, providers will have to fix some current problems. International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass., recently surveyed call services provided by Deltathree.com Inc., Net2Phone Inc. and PhoneFree.com Inc. IDC found that some had voice quality nearly as good as that of a land-line telephone. Too often, though, quality wasnt the norm, with conversations interrupted by echoes, muffled voices and dropped packets.

Another hurdle was troubleshooting, which required that users have a good understanding of computers and software. Such drawbacks, IDC predicts, will keep most consumers talking on the regular telephone, except for international calls, where savings can justify potential frustration.