VoIP is cool

Or is it? Services, suits, iPod envy envelop the technology

VoIP took center stage at last week's Voice on the Net (VON) show in Santa Clara. AT&T and Level 3  rolled out residential VoIP services; and then AT&T was summarily sued by Vonage over naming rights to its service. And who says VoIP isn't cool? See stories:

AT&T demos residential VoIP service

Level 3 unveils residential VoIP services

Vonage sues AT&T over CallVantage name

Why, Jeff Pulver, orchestrator of the VON show, does! Pulver tried to recruit Apple's Steve Jobs last week to make VoIP as wildly popular as Apple's iPod digital music player. VoIP's problems, he says, are pending classification of the service and how strictly it will be regulated; limited uptake by potential customers who have broadband Internet access; and technical problems such as getting IP calls through firewalls. Maybe he should start with his own Free World Dialup service, which he admits is facing uncool user expectations and technical difficulties. Users who sign up expect the service to be easier to set up and use than it actually is. "Even for free, people have high expectations of service, 24-7 support and 100% reliability," he said. That would be cool. (Read the story)

So, what's cool then? Why Wi-Fi, of course. SBC says it will offer W-Fi service in thousands of UPS retail stores in the U.S. Adding FreedomLink to the outlets, which offer printing, copying and shipping services, will make the stores into "branch offices" for mobile workers, SBC says. FreedomLink service will be available in more than 1,500 UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. locations by year-end, with installations continuing through 2005. The monthly charge is $19.95 for unlimited access to all FreedomLink hot spots. Day-session charges are $7.95 for unlimited access to FreedomLink hot spots for one calendar day. (Read the story)

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Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.