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Internet telephony takes big bite out of long distance bills

With the advancement of telecommunication technologies, people don’t have to rush through their long-distance telephone calls and worry about expensive phone bills anymore. A revolutionary innovation, VoIP, has changed modern people’s ideas about old-fashioned telephones.

VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, is a newly developed telecommunication product, which uses advanced computer technology to shape the way traditional telephones convey voices and the result is cheaper telephone bills and more convenient communication environments. With broadband Internet access becoming progressively more popular, VoIP, or the Internet telephone can expand its ever-growing market.

“The future of VoIP is geared toward a multi-purpose, more convenient, but less expensive solution, and is looking to take the leading position in the telecommunication market dominated by traditional telephones,” said Terry Cheng, the president of Texas Instruments Incorporated Asia Limited, at a forum held by Taipei County’s computer association.

Conventional telephones use circuit-switched networks of the public’s interchanging telephone system to deliver voices and sounds. VoIP, provides an alternative to the methods these voices and sounds are conveyed. It applies a cutting-edge method called “gateway technology,” by which voice packages are transmitted through broadband Internet access. Every voice package is coded and intended for a specific address and destination. When the package reaches the specified location, it will be reconstituted and transformed into normal voices.

What’s more, a voice channel for a conventional telephone needs 64 Kbps, but for VoIP, it only needs a voice channel of 6.3 Kbps, and different data can share the same line, which results in a huge cost reduction and higher usage rate of lines.

Probably for most people, their impressions of Internet telephony remain that of vague, unclear and intermittent voices. That is history now, for most Internet telephone servers apply industrial standards and high quality decoding technologies, resulting in greater improvement in the sound quality. Users of Internet telephony no longer have to worry about echoes or delayed voices. In fact, the call quality is now as good as ordinary telephones.

In Taiwan, the application of VoIP to commercial services is in its early stages when compared to the United States. However, with the number of households equipped with broadband Internet access exceeding three million in Taiwan, many ISP providers like Seednet and APOL have released their own Internet telephony services. Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s leader in the telecommunication industry, plans to launch its VoIP service in the next few years, which is expected to play a vital role in promoting the use of Internet telephony in Taiwan, say analysts.

VoIP is not only for households though; it can also be applied to businesses and can achieve the remarkable effect of reduction of working hours and cost of communications.

“The Internet telephones are creating a revolution in telecommunication and have subverted the existing idea of work. In Japan, we have seen successful examples of using VoIP in firms and corporations, and in Taiwan, the application of the Internet telephones will be multi-layered in the future,” said Larry Chai, the managing director of Cisco Taiwan.

Cisco Taiwan also cited a survey conducted by the Sage Institute, showing corporations with Internet telephones can reduce working time by 5.5 hours per week, and for long-distance commuters, using VoIP can shorten their time spent on the commute.

Apart from the reduction in working hours, Internet telephones also save an enormous amount of money spent on telephone bills. International long-distance calls only cost half as much as on traditional phones; calls to cellular phones can be reduced by 40 percent and there is no need for changing telephone numbers or dialing habits.

With Chunghwa Telecom joining the competition for the VoIP market, it is foreseeable that in the near future, the Internet telephone will only become more prevalent and will probably replace the use of conventional telephones. For consumers, it is definitely good news.

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