Thursday, June 28, 2007

VoIP killer applications

Home phone away from home
You can bring your "home" phone anywhere that has Internet connection! It's worthwhile to pack it with you - the phone is about palm size and the base sits on your palm. Sometimes it's important to give the impression of being at home, eg, taking sick leave to go on vacation! Or you can tell you friends that you are on vacation as it happens, rather than returning their calls after vacation. You can retrieve your voice mails with no extra cost anywhere in the world, rather than going through all of them when you come back.

But I won't bet on it 100%. There would be little difference within US. But Internet traffic between countries or regions may have bottlenecks affecting voice quality or reliability. But if you are on vacation, who cares.

It can't replace cell phones outdoors, but the charges are high for international roaming. For example, a US caller calling your US cell number can get through if you are in London, but someone has to pay for the international long distance charges. Usually people bring their GSM phone, or an extra GSM phone when they go abroad, then buy local prepaid SIM cards. So you have a number that your folks back home do not know, unless you tell them. They can still reach you, but international call charges apply. But for VoIP, there is no difference where your phone is, anywhere in the world.

Telemarketer killer

I can tell you that the no-call list don't work, only making telemarketer more aggressive. Dish network used offshore telemarketers to get around no call list? Firemen and policemen funds seem to be exempted. Debt collectors of course can call you until the end of time. Credit card affiliates can call you to sell credit protection plans and others.

Banging the phone and zippers don't work because the telemarketers are well prepared. It's part of the job and their life depends on it, scarifying the ear drum is not a big deal. It only make them more aggressive as if to revenge.

Having a landline is a liability. At worst, the marketing calls outnumbered useful calls 10 to 1 ! Most people use cell phone. I keep a landline mainly for international calls, and I don't use cell that much too.

Without caller ID subscription, it's suicide! CID alone doesn't do much. First of all, the phone still rings all the time. Second, you have to go up to the phone to see the ID. A CID announcing phone saves you some walk around.

Typically VoIP call features are inclusive, making it much cheaper than traditional phones. CID is always free. The other marketer killer features are call blocking. You can block all incoming calls without an ID, in this case you phone don't even ring! You can also block individual numbers. Call waiting ID allows you to see who's waiting before deciding to take the call.

Since most international calls do not have CID, I need a 2nd number with a distinctive ring tone for international callers. I also give this as a VIP number to friends and families. This number is free too. (You have only one number for outgoing calls, that is, your outgoing CID is your home number .)

After fighting with the telemarketers for a while, I know their tactics. First, they call with blocked ID's. Then they call with some misleading company CID, but you can recognize who's behind it after Googling it. If you block these numbers then they will have totally non-sense names or numbers like 12345678, or a combination of legit area codes and random numbers, like 602-00-0000. Then, the bad news, not a day after I heard on the news that they can spoof the CID, I got many calls from cell phone numbers that I don't recognize. Nobody left a message so I knew they are spoofing telemarketers. I don't take calls not on my electronic phone book. Then they give up.

Traveling service provider

If you ping pong between East and West coast for example, you will be using your cell phone for business, as most call plans are national in scope. VoIP is effectively a national plan, with the same charges no matter where you bring your phone, but cheaper. In addition, all US carriers do not support a second line (a second phone number) on a single phone. For VoIP, not only that you can have as many numbers as you like on a single line, you can pick any area code you want. This allows you to create the impression of local presence. It's either free or a few dollars for each additional number. However, your outgoing caller ID will always be your primary "home" number.

Traveling call center

Usually all your cell phone call log appears online in your account. I can't say that about landlines. But VoIP does it a lot better. First, extended CID means that you have a name on top of a number. Second, you can work your contact list online, rather than on your tiny cell phone. Third, you can listen to and organize voice mails online (though the voice quality is not as good as cell or your own recorder). With a laptop traveling, you can deal with a large number of new and old callers. With simple browser add-ons, you can, for example, highlight a phone number or numbers on your log, and lookup customer information from a database. Or you can lookup the database with a single click on a button, using the first X phone numbers on the log as the key. The call details appear pretty quick online, pretty much as quick as the demo on TV about how fast the credit card transitions will appear online.

Intercom

It isn't relevant to VoIP technology but did I say I buy into VoIP because of the low cost equipment? I brought VoIP because I can have a decent cordless phone for cheap. Nowadays the intercom functions are pretty good. Press one button to initiate call and then scroll through the list to call the dining room, bedrooom 1 to 4, toilet 1 or 2, or everybody. It can hardly be simpler than a dedicated intercom.

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