Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Well, it sort of works...

I'm not referring to code here. I am referring instead to the Packet8 IP phone I got to try out. I can hear anyone who calls the number crystal clear - well, not quite perfectly clear, but when you factor in that it is a "long-distance" call (all calls from it are long-distance, but long-distance calling is free - international calls are really cheap too), the quality is pretty average.

On the other end, however, it really depends on how much upstream bandwidth you have. If people are hitting your web server really hard, for instance, then you leave Packet8 with less bandwidth to work with and therefore some choppiness will happen. This makes me sound like you are on a cell phone or something to the other person. Or worse, like one of those outsourced Indian call centers. At least I don't have a crazy non-understandable-to-English-speaking-people accent.

When the upstream connection isn't being used much, it basically sounds just like a regular phone line calling long-distance. I will spend some more time with this to see if I can turn on some bandwidth throttling measures somewhere to give Packet8 a higher priority rating.

Even then, the old adage is probably true - you get what you pay for. I'm spending $20 a month for this, though, so given they have to basically do nothing except man a few servers here or there, their overhead is nil and they are profitable. Therefore, my $20 should be buying a high-quality product. When the bandwidth is there it seems to be pretty good, when VPN users and what-not start hitting the connection, it gets choppy. One almost needs a full T1 for it to be useful without having to configure everything else to help Packet8 work better (I guess that's a possible solution - just throw more bandwidth at it). The free long-distance is probably their biggest selling point and they need to make that their way to push the product.

My guess is that they assume people are just surfing the web as they talk on their IP phone. That's a pretty good assumption and generally true. I guess I'm the oddball trying to do something with the technology that it wasn't intended to do. Go figure. I like doing that sort of thing. I generally find the bugs that no one was supposed to be able to find. It requires 8K of bandwidth per second (minimum, with probably 10K preferred) to not be "choppy". That's a fairly hefty chunk of upstream bandwidth for most cable modems and DSL lines (half of all available in some cases).

I might live to regret the decision, I might not. For now I will view it as an investment and just hope that the bandwidth needs don't have to be messed with too much.

Just don't upload large files to your website while talking on an IP phone is all I can say.

No comments:

Post a Comment