The New York Times reports that Dartmouth recently decided to stop charging students, faculty and staff for long-distance phone calls. The college made that decision when administrators discovered that the billing function was costing more than the calls themselves. But the college didn’t just keep using the old telephone scheme; they started using Voice over IP (VoIP).
VoIP is going to be big in the next few years. If you have a broadband connection you can try it now. For example, Packet8 is a VoIP scheme for home users that makes a lot of sense. For $20 per month you can make unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, and you can receive calls too. Vonage also has a similar plan. How long do you think that home users (who increasingly have broadband internet connections) are going to take to figure out that this is a great way to save money? A few years, tops.
But it won’t all be roses. You can expect a lot of turbulence (and possibly some bankrupcies) as the traditional phone companies try to compete (or thwart competition) in this novel arena.
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One catch though. If you want DSL service, you are required to maintain at least basic local telephone service. So DSL users would end up paying for local service twice.