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Audio/Video Conference with iChat and AIM 353

JHromadka writes "Apple and AOL released today new versions of their instant messaging software that allows audio and video conferencing between Mac iChat users and Windows AIM users. " Anyone else think we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?
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Audio/Video Conference with iChat and AIM

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  • Ya right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by QuaZar666 ( 164830 )
    I don't see standard POTS phones going away anytime soon as much as a I wish it would. People still use fax machines, impact printers, and dialup. Before POTS can go completly away we would first need to get rid of at least fax machines and dialup.

    • Re:Ya right (Score:2, Informative)

      by GNUguy ( 55665 )
      Dilaup wont go away any time soon, I work for a small ISP who's nitch is the little country towns who can't get DSL or cable because their population make it not worthwhile.

      So I predict dialup will be around for at least another 5 years.

      • Re:Ya right (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        at least 5 years... that isn't a very long time. I think dialup will be around for another 15-20 years and that is based on the fact that a large part of the population is content with just dialing up and checking email and disconnecting.

        Your companies niche is those small towns... maybe in 5 years they will have access for DSL, but the DSL price isn't for everyone.
        • Re:Ya right (Score:3, Informative)

          by Archfeld ( 6757 ) *
          difference in DSL and cable prices ? Where...same cost where I am, an arm and a leg, plus your first born, and both rising, like 15 % in the last year, GO BUSH GO, let's deregulate some more to save consumers money and drive competition.
    • What's a 'fax' machine? Is that like an online dictionary?


  • End of analog? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Godeke ( 32895 ) * on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:51PM (#8193079)
    Didn't anyone read the "technologies that refuse to go away" article? Analog phones have so many advantages over digital technology that I find it hard to believe they will go away anytime soon.

    1. Ubiquity: not just in the US, but world wide. The analog phone network links many countries that will take a long time to bring enough bandwidth to make digital conversations useful. Even in the US, there are a *lot* of places where you can't get broadband. If you are doing video you *need* broadband. If you are doing voice, you *want* broadband for the lower latency.

    2. Reliability: with the exception of *major* disasters (which would bring any network down) the analog phone system just works. I keep one corded phone in the house because it works when the power goes out. (Handy, say, to call the electrician on.) My PC will last 15 minutes on battery backup: not what I want to rely on if I come home to a dark house. My local cable provider has "digital phone" service which has outage issues at least once a month, and sometimes weekly. My cell phone is likewise prone to sudden disconnects, but I put up with it for the sake of being mobile.

    3. Quality of Service: I have a few friends too cheap to pay for long distance who like to voice chat over Yahoo and other services. It works. Kinda. Except when it doesn't, and drops the connection, or crashes or makes my sound card cry. But even when it works, it sounds bad.

    That isn't to say these are insurmountable problems. The analog phone network is mostly digital at it's core, so it isn't a matter of technology, per se. Instead, it is the attempt to shoehorn voice over IP, and particularly over the laggy, drop prone and quirky public Internet. Voice is almost there, if you have good broadband. Video is a joke still: it reminds me of Internet radio about 4 years ago, mostly a novelty. It is going to take a lot of work at the infrastructure layer to make digital VOIP and video a common occurrence that is relied upon, instead of as a novelty, or in applications where people put the infrastructure in place themselves (tele-medicine, big companies with video conferencing between T1 connected locations, etc).
    • by Ride-My-Rocket ( 96935 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:00PM (#8193239) Homepage
      Actually, one of the main reasons for keeping an analog line is in case of natural disasters. I was living at 42nd St & 11th Ave in Manhattan on September 11, 2001 -- all of my friends who were in the city that day ended up at my place, since there was no reasonable way to get back to their respective boroughs. And while they were there, everybody was able to use our landline to make phone calls and let their families know they were OK; meanwhile, all of our cellphones were useful only as paperweighs, as the networks were thoroughly saturated with traffic.
      • by jkabbe ( 631234 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:13PM (#8193406)
        And then there was the blackout last summer where my analog phone was a paperweight but my cell phone kept on going (although the signal got pretty week as towers started going down).
        • Nothing can stop my TCP/IP over Carrier Pigeons!
        • I suspect you should get a better analog phone then; Phones work (or at least should work) regardless of whether or not there is electricity or not..

          Cordless phones will not (for obvious reasons). Poorly-designed phones with fancy features like Call Display/ID will not work at all.. the better designed ones will continue to do basic telephone functions.

          But a simple, basic phone will always work -- they don't even plug into the wall.

          Really, the only electricity needed for a phone is what's provided d

      • Interesting. I had the opposite experience on 9/11 (I don't live in NYC, btw). My landline was useless, all lines were busy, but I could use my cell phone as well as AIM (via DSL) to communicate with friends in New York.
      • Truthfully it's only analog to your local central office or nearby crossbox.

        Now here's a disaster story....

        Back in 1990 an F5 tornado hit a town southwest of Chicago and the "big" problem with the phones was that relatives and friends overloaded the system calling to see "are you ok?".

        Better yet, a few days later an employee of the phone company was driving through the devistated town and saw a house with the front completely ripped of, like a doll house. Furniture and various personal items were all ov
    • Re:End of analog? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sockit2me9000 ( 589601 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:47PM (#8193881)
      Points two and three are no longer necessarily true. The analogue phone network is the single most complex network on the face of the earth. The Internet is evolving and will most likely overtake the POTS but today the intricacy of the phone network is boggling. Think about it: You can pick up a phone anywhere in the world and call anyone else anywhere and have a near real time conversation. And this was achieved over half a century ago! The problem today is that the older people who originally designed and implemented these systems are now almost all retired and left in its place are those people who are now more technicians than designers and don't understand the intricacies of the network. And the network is overloaded now, in a way that can cause failures due to very tiny and subtle problems. As more and more of these old guards are forced into retirement--the ones that understood both the scale and the complexity and had been a part of the jury-rigging of the structure as it began to balloon-- I think we're going to see a huge drop in the dependancy of the phone service, both through reliability and quality of service in the near future. With our current rate of growth I see it happening within the decade. And this is when digital/internet phone will just be becoming viable. I think the phone companies have a lot to worry about right now.
      • Re:End of analog? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by edwdig ( 47888 )
        To support your theory, here's a story I heard from my Uncle, who retired from Verizon about a year or two ago. He worked there for over twenty years. I forget the original company he started working for, but he ended up in Verizon after several mergers.

        In the past, management positions were awarded to people who worked their way up through the ranks. That meant they understood how the phone networks worked, and in a crises, knew how to fix the problems.

        Now, people are hired straight into management posit
    • Re:End of analog? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pyros ( 61399 )
      Are you smoking crack? Do yo not realise that the quality wireless networks in the Eastern hemisphere because they don't have the same ubiquitous, affordable, reliable PSTN that we enjoy here? See, the U.S. spent load of time and money investing in public infrastructure like the PSTN, and cable networks, and highway systems. In turn, we created a situation where the services are so good, we're having trouble progressing past them. In regions where this infrastructure wasn't created, you see greater broadban
  • Anyone else think we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?

    No. This market segment probably never used telephones anyway. AOL users just drooled in bland confusion at their complicated number pads, while Mac users couldn't understand why the peripheral had more than one button.
    • I actually thought this was kinda funny. Although you're forgetting something. AOL kiddies are v3ry f4m1l14r to the numb3r p4d, if you catch my drift.

      I can just see them now, typing out the persons name.
  • phones (Score:5, Funny)

    by flynt ( 248848 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:51PM (#8193082)
    Anyone else think we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?

    If I remember Taco, you're still on dial-up, so we better not be nearing the end, for your sake.
  • Cell Phones ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhino_badlands ( 449954 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:51PM (#8193085) Homepage
    i think cell phones already broke that barrier long long ago, most college kids now have a cell phone rather then getting a phone for their dorm or house/apartment. And i also know that alot of other people are doing this aswell for home and buisness.
    • Re:Cell Phones ? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by davidhan ( 539718 )
      In countries that don't have a high percentage of land line penetration, wireless comm often expand at a faster rate and overtake land lines. Its easier and cheaper to roll out cell networks than it is to lay cable to everyone house.
  • 911? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Beatbyte ( 163694 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:52PM (#8193093) Homepage
    Nope. Why?

    Guy A : "OMG I just cut off my leg! Call 911!"
    Guy B : "Can't man the latest Windows worm is destroying the 'net"
    Guy A : "Oh ok I'll wait.
    • Except, chances are someone in the room has a digital cell phone they can use to call 911. And all over the country, 911 systems are being upgraded so they can identify the location of the caller (which was a big advantage of using landlines to call for emergencies in the past)
    • bleh. I don't know why the parent is modded flaimbait. Is it not true that Windows worms have crippled the Internet in the past? Is it not true that people do need to call 911 on occasion? I don't think it's too far fetched to think of the parents post comming true if analog phone lines were taken out of service and videoconferencing over the public Internet became a primary means of communication (which is what taco implied).
    • Re:911? (Score:5, Funny)

      by sryx ( 34524 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @05:01PM (#8194066) Homepage
      Well if you put Windows in the mix it might sound like this.

      Guy A: "OMG I just cut off my leg! Call 911!"
      Guy B: "Ok ok one sec, I got to boot up Windows!"
      Guy A: "Oh the pain the pain!!!"
      Guy B: "Man chill out, Windows is still booting, because I'm to cheap to own a land line or a cell phone I'm also too cheap to get a fast computer"
      Guy A: "I think I can see a light down a dark tunnel"
      Guy B: "Ok Windows is up, now lets see..."
      Clippy: "I noticed you are bleading to death, would you like help?"
      Guy A: "I'm so sorry I never gave enough to the poor, God, please forgive me, my life has been meaningless, I just want to know you before I die"
      Guy B: "Woah, slow down there Guy A, I'm trying to call 911, Just need to get Clippy to leave me alone"
      Clippy: "I noticed you are trying to atone for you sins before you blead to death, would you like help?"
      Guy B: "Well, would you like help with your atonment?"
      Guy A:...
      Guy B: "Crap, I need a faster PC"
      Clippy: "I noticed that you have a dead friend in your living room, would you like me to despose of the body?"

      • Re:911? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Beatbyte ( 163694 )
        Don't forget you MUST activate your copy of MS-Voip otherwise you can just sit there and watch him die.
  • Not a chance (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:52PM (#8193100)
    Anyone else think we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?

    Not anytime soon, as long as (1) IP-based applications remain best-effort solutions, (2) IP stuff remain significantly more insecure than phone connections (that's quite a low standard to achieve, but still) and (3) any relevant part of the rest of the world doesn't want to switch to VoIP (i.e. everybody who doesn't enjoy the standard of living found in the 5-10 most developed countries in the world).
  • by reiggin ( 646111 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:52PM (#8193101)
    Remember that very recent article [slashdot.org] on here about technologies that refuse to die? 100 years from now, analog phones will be on that list. iChat/AIM is great but my mother will never use it. Same can be said for VoIP.
    • about technologies that refuse to die? 100 years from now, analog phones will be on that list. iChat/AIM is great but my mother will never use it

      Is your mother likely to be around in 100 years?

    • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:02PM (#8193276)
      iChat/AIM is great but my mother will never use it. Same can be said for VoIP.

      I say bull.

      There are 3 things that count with new technologies : (1) the technology, (2) packaging, (3) packaging. If you package VoIP in the form of a telephone set that plugs into the wall, doesn't take a genius to configure and provides the same sort of service (no choppiness, somewhat okay phone quality, and the ability to dial a number), your mom will use it.

      The best example is the Tivo : it's 20+ years people have been able to record shows at predefined times with VHS recorders, even sometimes using barcodes printed in TV guides so you don't have to program your VCR yourself. Yet that sort of application is only taking off since Tivo and ReplayTV, because they realized they should take the basic idea and turn it into a box that connects onto some wall socket, asks your zip code to configure itself, dials, do everything for you, and then present you with menus and things that a 6 year old can understand. But in the end, Tivo boxes are VCRs on steroid. The success comes from the packaging.
  • by LnxAddct ( 679316 ) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:52PM (#8193104)
    If your running Linux and go to their site [aim.com] you'll see that they have a linux version and they keep it updated:) Wonder if it has these new features.
    • by reiggin ( 646111 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:58PM (#8193190)
      It doesn't. AIM for Linux is like using AIM for Windows 95. It kinda sucks. GAIM [marko.net] is much better, IMHO. There are others out there, too. It'd be interesting to know if any of the OSS guys plan on rolling these video chat features into their clients, though.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The Linux version has never supported audio/video. I would like to think that they would start supporting us now, but I'm not getting my hopes up. About the only comprable tool for this on Linux which will allow us to at least have video chat with Windows users is Gnomemeeting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:52PM (#8193107)
    I don't want to see half of the people I chat with... My poor world depends on coolgrl973 being the cute one in that picture!
  • by Bradee-oh! ( 459922 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:52PM (#8193109)
    Not quite yet. The analog phone system will persist until there is a replacement that is not only superior in cost and flexibility but also in ease of use. I can pick up my phone and dial a friend's number and be connected within seconds. If my computer is off or I am not logged into AIM, the process of connecting with them becomes slower and more complicated than dialing their digits.
  • I never understood (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CompWerks ( 684874 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:53PM (#8193113)
    Why we need to see the person on the other end of the line unless they were giving a presentation or something.

    Other then that it's quite useless unless you are going to make faces at each other or possibly have cyber-sex but then again we're talking about the /. crowd.

  • gaim (Score:5, Interesting)

    by (startx) ( 37027 ) <slashdot AT unspunproductions DOT com> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:53PM (#8193114) Journal
    I'm glad to see that I can finally video chat with my windows using friends too. Anyone have an estimate on how long it'll take the gaim folks to impliment this addition so EVERYONE can videoconfrence?
  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@@@dal...net> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:53PM (#8193128)
    i picked up a USB headset yesterday for my 11 year old sister, because a bunch of her friends have webcams and headsets. She immediately tried it out with her friends. From what I saw, the quality is still sketchy.

    Until they get these messenger/aim/ichat systems up to par with VOIP or other standards, people will still use the telephone.

    And, while slightly offtopic - why is it that we have so many different IM networks out there? Why cant we just have a simple single protocol allowing each of the different clients to interoperate. I'm stuck using trillian, lacking half the features of all the others, because i dont feel like running four (aim,icq,msn,yahoo) damn messenger clients.

    • (aim,icq,msn,yahoo)

      While I'm not sure about other platforms' options, if you're on Mac OS X, Fire [sourceforge.net] is an excellent multi-protocol client, covering AIM, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo, and irc in one package.
    • The quality's not sketchy, it's just misconfigured. Go ahead and send me the AIM screen names of these 11 y/o girls with webcams and I'll try to help them fix it...

  • by savagedome ( 742194 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:54PM (#8193135)
    we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?

    You can't slam down one of those messsage clients. Its more satisfying to slam down the phone after you get mad at someone !

    • more satisfying to slam down the phone after you get mad at someone !

      For the same reason, I can only use "flip" cell phones. Before I got my first one, the only way to hang up on anybody (with any degree of satisfaction) was to throw my phone across the cab of my truck at the end of each conversation.

      Actually, that system works fine in the winter, when the windows are rolled up, but...
  • No audio (Score:3, Informative)

    by ciryon ( 218518 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:55PM (#8193147) Journal
    I just tried it and it doesn't seem to support audio. Only video is also mentioned at Apple's website.

    Would be great if they implemented audio chat also, but hey this is just a beta.

  • ICQ next? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by F. Mephit ( 720161 ) <fmephit.twowhitestripes@com> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:55PM (#8193157) Homepage
    So then the last major compatibility gap to bridge will be to get a version of ICQ that's compatible with those two (and vice versa)? Or better yet, Trillian?
  • NAT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phreak03 ( 621876 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:56PM (#8193165) Homepage Journal
    As long as everyone is NAT'ed and firewalled, P2P based technology that requires dirrect comunication will be limited to the geeks (now at the moment though, anyone not running some form of NAT firewall on a DSL or cable line is a idiot) But the technoidiots don't know how to port forward so these technologies will not work At my university we all have our own IP's but All incomeing ports are blocked.........
    • Re:NAT (Score:2, Interesting)

      by carabela ( 688886 )
      Have you seen Skype [skype.com] ?
      From their website:

      "Skype is the next phenomenon from the people who brought you KaZaA. Just like KaZaA, Skype uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology to connect you to other users - not to share files this time, but to talk and chat with your friends."

      Further on: "Works with all firewall, NAT and routers - nothing to configure!"

    • Re:NAT (Score:4, Informative)

      by All Names Have Been ( 629775 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:23PM (#8193547)
      Except that this technology already works very well with most home NAT and firewall boxes. I've sucessfully used iChat AV from my home (using NAT on an old Linksys 802.11b router) to the in-laws, also behind a linksys broadband router of some sort and using NAT. Worked first time, no configuration.

      This is true for most home hardware nowadays. Perhaps you should go read the specs for how iChat AV works? They are publically available.
  • iSight on a PC? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:56PM (#8193167)
    So can an iSight be used with the AOL software on a Windows PC?
    • Re:iSight on a PC? (Score:3, Informative)

      by mrbrown1602 ( 536940 )
      Nope. Its still Mac only. The new AIM client just provides support for Windows-compatible webcams.
      • Re:iSight on a PC? (Score:3, Informative)

        by elohim ( 512193 )
        You can use iSight with Windows just fine. "Knight explained that Apple and AOL were able to bridge the two online communities by incorporating standards-based technology in their respective software applications. Because the iSight is also a standards-based camera, Knight said that AIM users should be able to use it as their video device if they want to -- he added that Windows users would also need an external microphone or another source of audio if they were using the iSight on a Windows PC, unlike the
  • "Anyone else think we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?"

    That is a rather broad statement.
    The Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) network is rather all encompassing and while we see all these new ways of communication, you'd be surprised on how much we still rely on POTS today. I doubt if we'll ever see the end of POTS in our lifetime, the same thing with CB, just because we have celluler and satelite phone networks, the relatively lowtech CB is still in heavy use today.

  • Anyone else think we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?

    I'm not still on dialup, but speaking for all those who still are (for whatever reason) : "Not a fucking chance"

  • more consolidation of communications in the hands of a few small companies backing their horrid non-open standards.

    We should get excited about small businesses (well small compared to AOL/Microsoft) like vonage [vonage.com] and clients based on open protocols like Jabber [jabber.com]

    As a final problem won't this mean increased amounts of data being shunted onto the internet? Do we really need videoconferencing?

    Oh well, maybe it'll stop people travelling as much.

    Yes, I'm a misanthrope. I want people to stay home and watch the
  • Not a troll (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeffkjo1 ( 663413 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @03:58PM (#8193191) Homepage
    I'm not trolling, I'm asking a serious question.

    I use the official AOL version of AIM in Linux (for reasons I won't get into.) They haven't released an update for the linux client in nearly 2 years. When can we expect to see a new client for linux?
  • The performance table on the website for ichat 2.1 says there are 2resolutions:
    176x144 and 352x288

    When I was using my iSight with iChat, it SEEMED that the resolution was higher than this, especially at fullscreen zoom.

    Has apple changed iChat 2.1 to PC resolutions or can you still do higher res like 640x480? (or am I mistaken and you could you never do 640x480?)
    • Re:hmmm.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by mofu ( 609230 )
      From the Apple iChat [apple.com] "iChat AV uses patented anamorphic resizing techniques so that the video of the person you're chatting with fills the entire screen without distortion"
  • Deaf People (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iteratix ( 534157 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:01PM (#8193243)

    I see some comments here saying that video-as-phone won't be useful. I beg to differ.

    I'm deaf; and along with that comes the inability to use voice phones. Video phones, either through dedicated lines or on the computer, are a Godsend to people like us. We've been waiting a long time for this.

    Being able to sign to a loved one or a friend, instead of using kludgy relay systems like this [ip-relay.com] or others. In fact, there's a company called Sorenson [sorensonvrs.com] (yes of the codec fame) that has a set-top box for televisions that allows a Deaf person to connect to either (1) any other set-top box or (2) the relay service or (3) another webcam -- all for video chat purposes.

    For those that are wondering, by "Relay" I refer to the act of me typing to a person (paid by the government) that voices my message to an person at the other end of a phone number, and types back to me what that person says. Nifty but very very slow and time-consuming.

    Before you knock a new technology (ew, I don't want to see Daddy on the toilet) or say its only for business purposes, think about it.

    • Have you ever used a video phone?

      good luck signing asl at a framerate of 4 fps

      • by zerocircle ( 559005 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @07:21PM (#8195686)
        Have you ever used a video phone?

        good luck signing asl at a framerate of 4 fps

        Have you ever used iChat AV?

        I tried it for the first time a couple of nights ago. FireWired my Sony Digital-8 video camera to my TiBook 667 running Panther. iChat recognized the camera with no configuration and immediately offered a video-chat button for a friend in my AIM buddy list -- he has a Power Mac G4 and an iSight.

        Talked for an hour with a constant two-way frame rate of 15fps over a cable modem / sub-optimal AirPort signal. Plenty good for visual conversation.

        The iChat interface is great, too.

  • AOL and video (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hey ( 83763 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:01PM (#8193247) Journal
    Wasn't there a ruling that said AOL would need to allow other IM systems to connect once they got video going.
    Or did they slime out of that?

    Why can we just all go Jabber.
  • by bigmo ( 181402 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:01PM (#8193256)
    Analog will certainly not go away, but it's usefulness will be kept to certain areas such as where the relative security of a switched circuit (to the extent that those actually exist any more) is imortant. Also don't forget that most people in the world don't own computers or have connections capable of audio/video conferencing.

    However, for small businesses, this is a great thing. I'd just like to see a system where linux users could a/v chat with windows/mac users without the other users having to be gurus. I've tried getting some people with home offices to work with me via a/v conferencing, but most of them find it excruciatingly difficult to install a plugin to their browser, much less set up an h323 application.

    I'd like to hear from anyone successfully doing this with anyone other than another geek.
  • by slykens ( 85844 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:02PM (#8193267)
    Seems like people love to talk about convergence and eliminating the "old" system. Convergence is nice but why would I have a $600 PC everywhere in my house that I might want to use a phone? I can buy a cheapo Princess phone for $10 these days and it takes up a lot less room.

    What people sometimes miss is that most of the public just wants a phone that works when it is supposed to. An example is ATT Wireless' GSM network. High speed data and seamless international roaming is nice but coverage is horrible in many areas thus all the bells and whistles are wasted on people in areas where the GSM deployment is botched. ATT is losing a lot of GSM customers to other networks like Verizon or Nextel because their networks provide better coverage. (Yes in the case of Verizon they have nice wireless data goodies too)

    IMO, mobile telephones will replace regular household phones in much larger numbers than PCs replacing phones ever will. Further, specialty devices like D-Link's video "phone" that can be connected to the TV (larger display) may be more popular with non-geeks who just want a computer for word processing and browsing the intarweb.

  • I don't think I'm going to stop using the regular phone lines. In fact I'm going to insist that we still have it.

    What makes me nervous is when our network guys talk about IP telephony and the great advantages of IP based communications. I don't deny the features that they tout are attractive. i.e. Ability to take your phone anywhere on campus, integration of email, voicemail ...etc.

    But my biggest concern would be realiability. My traditional analog office phone didn't stop working when My.Doom or Slam

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El ( 94934 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:13PM (#8193409)
    If videoconferencing is so great, why is it that every time I see Netmeeting used for Application Sharing and/or video, business is still using a speakerphone for audio? Could it have something to do with the internet introducing drop out and up to 2 second delays in audio? For real-time communication, bringing up a dedicated virtual circuit really does have some advantages over using a packet-switched network, especially for audio. Now, if we actually had the infrastructure in place throughout the entire internet to reserve end-to-end bandwidth (e.g. RSVP) and ensure reliable, timely delivery, we could effectively have virtual circuits over the Internet -- with a corresponing increase in cost for the higher Quality Of Service.
  • Anyone else think we're nearing the end of the analog phone system?

    Because of Audio/Video Conference with iChat and AIM? As they say in Chinatown, "Nickel preeze!". Instant Messeging and Web chats are great, for back and forth conversation, but have you ever tried to tell a joke or story? Forever long.

    Face to face (or screen to screen) video conferencing is still grainy at best for most consumer grade products availble.

    Cell phones are great for portabilty and catching me on the go, but if someon
  • by El ( 94934 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:19PM (#8193495)
    Immediately after the Loma Prieta earthquake, you couldn't make a cell call anywhere near San Francisco. Why? Because the wireless companies equipment was programmed to give up after 30 seconds if it didn't get a dial tone, while the phones where so overloaded that it was taking over a minute to get a dial tone on a land line. In a simular fashion, VoIP simply has a lot more potential points of failure than POTS.
  • by mac os ken ( 732050 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:22PM (#8193532) Homepage Journal
    Every since this fancy schmancy video iChat came out I've had to wear a shirt when talking to my buddies who absolutely insist on video chat. Now that the AIM/Windows masses will come up to speed in the next few months I'll have to wear a shirt continuously. At least I can still have the freed of a Sportscenter broadcaster and not wear pants.
  • by WolfPup ( 120228 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:41PM (#8193798) Homepage
    I don't think that the analog phone system will go away anytime soon since there really needs to be an economic reason for the system to go away. Once the system no longer is profitable for the phone companies (since maintenance and upgrades are expensive) they will stop supporting it, unless the government steps in and subsidizes it enough for them to keep providing the service.

    If another technology comes about that supplants the analog phone base then the utility companies will probably switch to that technology. The POTS is still compelling because you can pretty much attach a cheap ($5 dollar phone) to a land line and pay for a cheap service. There are other advantages as others have pointed out that the other technologies have not overcome such as availability during a power outage, emergency services, and almost instant availability.

    Until the level of service can match most POTS at this point and be profitable at about the same level, no other technology will probably supplant it.
  • by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <`ten.pbp' `ta' `maps'> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:49PM (#8193913)

    Dude, it was on Dr. Phil not too long ago. Millions of Oprah watching Dr. Phil fanatics will go "Oh, WOW!" and order themselves an iMac. I have a relative that called me and asked me about it after seeing Dr. Phil talk to that "Dr. Phil Family" using an iSight.

    Product placement really is an amazing thing.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @05:34PM (#8194548) Homepage Journal
    The Plain Old Telephone System is not analog, save the "last mile" to your house. As soon as you hit the line card, you are a 8 kSample/sec 8 bit/sample digital data stream.

    What you MEANT to say was, "How long until the end of the circuit-switched network is replaced by a packet-switched network."

    And when you start throwing Quality-Of-Service guarantees, bandwidth guarantees, and everything else to make a packet-switched network have the level of performance and reliability that the circuit-switched network has, guess what - you've just created a circuit-switched network!
  • by C. Mattix ( 32747 ) <cmattix@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @06:48PM (#8195313) Homepage
    Does anyone know of a H.323 solution that works on Mac? We use Polycom hardware to communicate for a variety of reasons. The only bad thing is that they are windows only.
  • by bkaddy ( 696134 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @06:54PM (#8195402) Homepage
    Earth scientists have used squidcam to communicate between windows and mac for some time now, although it isn't based on an existing instant messaging service. Squidcam [squidsoft.com] also allows for multiple connections at once, something iChatAV/AIM cannot. Read this review on web-cams [umn.edu].
  • by WiseWeasel ( 92224 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @08:11PM (#8196225)
    This is excellent news. I've been retransmitting live TV shows off my satellite TV subscription trough iChat with all my (no extended cable or satellite having) Mac friends using an analogue video to DV bridge box since iChat became available. Now, I will finally be able to share shows with my Windows using buddies as well. Quality has been surprisingly good, with shows perfectly watchable over my 256kbit upstream cable connection, and the recipient's similar cable connection. Now, even those poor souls who don't get Comedy Central can just get their Daily Show fix from their video chat buddies. Much more useful than actual 2-way videoconferencing.

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