ADSL and VoIP - What's all the Hype about?

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By now, most people know there is cable internet, ADSL internet and currently launching is ADSL2+ internet. What’s all the hype and why do we need it?

There are few inventions or advances in technology that push us towards using smarter, more powerful technology – ADSL2 is one of today’s biggest advances.

ADSL internet connections are inferior to cable internet connections as they are no where near as fast. However, ADSL has been generally more available and easier to obtain than cable as it runs over existing copper telephone cable.

There used to be a general ruling from telcos that you need to be with a 3 kilometre radius of the nearest ADSL enabled telephone exchange to obtain a consistently reliable internet service. This has turned out to be a myth as many internet connections over ADSL are often 5 kilometres and more from the telephone exchange, with the only drawback being speed limit (usually limited to 256k).

These days it’s common for most homes using ADSL to be operating at speeds of 256k. This is great for general web browsing and emails for a single PC, but not great for streaming internet radio or video unless you are prepared to wait, wait, wait.

Business connections are generally 512k – 1,500k, which is ideal for multiple users who browse the web and collect emails. Not so great if one or two staff members are streaming radio or downloading large files.

Now, here comes ADSL2 with new technology enabling speeds up to 24,000k or 24MBps.
This sort of speed is similar to two computers directly connected with each other – very fast!

The evolution of the internet has brought more downloading, video and audio streaming than ever seen before. There are new websites featuring live television, videos and radio broadcasts accessible to anyone and mostly free of charge.

Now it really is possible to watch your favourite television shows, sporting events, or listen to radio programs – all in high quality, without the long download wait time or stuttering during streaming live broadcasts.

ADSL2 makes this possible through speed improvements over the current ADSL and cable services available in the market.

So, that’s great, but what if I don’t watch television or listen to the radio via the internet?
Well, here’s the best part that I really enjoy…. With ADSL2 I can run my business and home telephone lines over the internet – aka VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol),

Why would you do that? To reduce costs.
If you are currently paying for a telephone landline, then paying for calling number display, local calls, long distance calls and international calls this can all add up to several hundred dollars every month.

However, if you were to install a VoIP box in your home or business, you could achieve the same result at a much cheaper price. How much cheaper?

Well, my home telephone bill is usually around $200 per month. This includes long distance calls to Brisbane, Perth and Sydney as well as international calls to the US and New Zealand.

Since moving to VoIP, we have gained two telephone lines and reduced our monthly phone costs to less than $50. Same usage, different call rates. What’s more, for friends and family using the same VoIP provider, our calls are free. We can also use both telephone lines at the same time.

So how does this work?
A VoIP box is a small appliance that is connected to your internet modem or router. Your normal phone line is connected into the box, then there are two lines coming out of the box, which can be connected to two ordinary telephone handsets.

Your computer does not need to be powered on for VoIP to work, in fact it does not even connect with your computer. The VoIP telephone service will be affected if your internet connection is unavailable, however some VoIP boxes can determine that the internet connection is not available and route any outbound calls via the normal telephone line so you won’t miss any calls.

In my opinion, this is where the real benefit to ADSL2 is – making telephone calls over the internet for next to nothing. The typical price for a call to anywhere in Australia is ten cents – at the moment you just can’t beat that.

I can make several calls concurrently over the internet whilst watching my favourite shows and listening to the radio all at the same time – now that’s great use of technology which is convenient and affordable. Just imagine the possibilities for businesses with staff who use the internet and telephones all day long. Our business is already benefiting from cheaper call costs and faster internet.

Whilst Australia is pretty much behind the eight ball as far as internet broadband speed is concerned, this recent advance in connection speed will really apply pressure to telecommunications companies as they are forced to reduce their call costs and come up with new innovative ways to keep customers.

ADSL2 is available mostly in metropolitan areas and is subject to the local telephone exchange being enabled for the increased speed. Internet plans are cheap, well under $100 for top speed offerings.. just watch the download limits as you will be using a whole lot more once you have experienced high speeds.

The best place to find out if your telephone exchange is ready for ADSL2 is the Whirlpool forums at http://www.whirlpool.net.au. Make sure you read through some of the discussion threads before selecting an ISP. Check the comments, issues and feedback before making a move.

You will also need an ADSL2 capable modem or router, generally under $150 and easy to configure.

Have you signed up for ADSL2? Do you have it connected already?
We’d love to hear you story.

Is there something you’d like us to review or discuss here? Please let us know.

About the Author

Darren Moss is a technology business manager for em3 People and Technology.
em3 provides technology services to small, medium and corporate organisations.
If you’d like to comment on this article or get in touch, please write to feedback@em3.com.au or visit www.em3.com.au
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