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RV Satellite Internet Phone: The Good, the Bad, and the Solutions

 Internet phone is undeniably a great service that allows users to place calls with their high speed internet connection and to save significantly on long distance and international calling costs. Another attraction of the service is its portability. Internet phone users can go virtually anywhere with their adapter or SIP phone and use it just as if they were sitting in their own living room as long as they have access to a high speed internet connection. The popularity of internet phone for both residential and business customers has grown tremendously in recent years and customers are reportedly well satisfied.

A large part of satisfaction with any product is related to customers knowing what they're getting and identifying their expectations/needs before purchasing. For all of its wonderful features, new consumers need to realize that internet phone services are still somewhat in their infancy as compared to regular land line telephone services which are over 100 years old. Because of the youth of internet phone service there are still a few issues that are being worked through. So, what "kinks are still in the system?

Originally, call quality was a concern but quality is now rated as similar to traditional calls in most surveys. Reliability is also good in general although new users need to realize that when power is lost or their internet connection is down, calls can not be made. This can be easily circumvented however by using an auxiliary, uninterrupted power supply, and back up communication in the form of a cell phone or land line for use in such emergencies. However, the biggest hurdle still being addressed by internet phone providers is assuring that customers have access to 911 or E911 services.

In 2005, the FCC mandated that internet phone providers give customers access to 911/E911. Providers are still struggling to make this happen. In some instances, gaining access to the 911 system is limited but in many instances the difficulty is due to the portability of the service. Here is an example. With traditional phone services, the 911 system allows emergency response operators to identify the location or address of the person calling based upon their phone number; operators basically receive the information from a sort of reverse telephone directory database. However, with internet phone a caller's number is attributed to the device and if the location of the device changes (i.e. they take it with them on a trip) the system can not automatically identify their location. Currently, it is the responsibility of the consumer to assure they notify their internet phone provider of their location/address to keep the information up-to-date in the database. Obviously, if a caller away from his identified location reaches 911 and is able to tell the operator their location the call would then need to be re-directed to the correct 911 center for the area. However, this becomes a much bigger issue when the caller is unable to speak for any reason.

For some internet phone customers, the limited 911/E911 access is not an issue. For these users, their phone is used exclusively in one location, such as their home or office, and once registered their location is easy to pinpoint. Others maintain a land line or cell phone for other purposes and would be able to use those lines to make any necessary 911 calls. Certainly, for consumers simply wishing to take advantage of the cost savings and portability of internet phone there are options to deal with some of the current shortcomings of internet phone but for others, the prospect of using other technologies such as satellite GPS to resolve problems in identifying the location of callers will make internet phone services more desirable in the next year or two.

The challenge of providing consistent and reliable access to 911 for internet phone services will be temporary just as it was a number of years ago for land line based phone services and subsequently for cellular services. For internet phone customers today, it is important to check with the service provider regarding access to 911 and to assure that their address/location is up-to-date with the provider at all times.

About the Author

Christine Peppler shares information on home entertainment and home electronics products, including internet phone, on her website at: