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On The Front Lines: A VoIP Survival Story

Every voice-over-IP user has stories to tell--including me. As a home-office worker, I use VoIP over my broadband Internet connection instead of old-fashioned phone lines. So I've experienced my share of VoIP gotchas as I learn how to better use my NEC Corp. softphone.

The phone software installed on my notebook computer jumps to the fore of my screen and becomes the active program every time a call comes in. The space bar is used to answer a call and to hang up. You can imagine how many times I've inadvertently answered a call while writing a story, or accidentally hung up on someone. And those pesky phone numbers with letters in them, like 800-VOIPOUT. Forget about it, because a computer keyboard doesn't work like that. Every time I have to make one of those calls, I'm stuck looking back and forth at the numbers and letters on my cell phone.

I've also had some service troubles. Early on, voices on the other end of the line buzzed and cracked as if I were speaking to a broken robot. Either that or I'd lose people for 10 seconds at a time. They could hear me, but I couldn't hear them. My home office is in Maryland, so when service problems popped up, my tech-support guy recommended I jump off the main New York-based VPN and onto the company's California-based VPN, where traffic tends to be lighter. That solved the problems temporarily, although there still was some static on the line.

Most of the problems now have been resolved and the calls usually go through clear and clean. But it took some time and effort by our IT staff, who I've gotten to know very well.

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VOIP Gotchas

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