When the great, green day dawns, anyone in the U.S. with a broadband Internet connection will be able to use Free World Dialup to call anyone in Ireland for free.
Besides a broadband Internet connection, you will need a computer and a microphone or headset.
Not everyone will have the necessary equipment, but the technology is growing and may replace normal dialing with phones at some point in the future, not least because it’s cheaper than conventional dialing.
Voice over Internet Protocol, the ability to make phone calls over the Internet, has witnessed explosive growth and attention during the past several months as hundreds of thousands of Americans use the technology.
This Internet phone service is technology that sends voice calls along with e-mails and Web pages over the public Internet or, in some cases, over a private Internet protocol network.
Such calls differ from plain old telephone calls because they are broken into digital packets that are sent and reassembled at their final destination. Regular phone calls travel intact across an individual circuit. Each regular call takes up an entire circuit, which makes the calls less efficient and more expensive to transmit.
Federal Communications Commission representatives have been looking into the new communications method and in December last said that Internet-based telephone service probably should face lighter regulation than traditional land line service — but they are less certain what rules should apply.
Jeff Pulver, founder of FWD, has warned FCC regulators that rules for VoIP communicating have to be original — using amended regulations inherited from traditional telecommunications was wrong.
“What you shouldn’t do is just dump legacy regulation on what is a fundamentally different technology,” he said.
The FCC has largely taken a hands-off approach to the Internet, but now it is converging with heavily regulated telephone service.
“We don’t come early to this issue and it is increasingly apparent that commission action is needed soon,” said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, a sentiment echoed by others at the agency. “It’s no slam dunk that the old rules even apply.”
For the period of time running up to St Patrick’s Day you will be able to dial anyone in Ireland — normally it is restricted to FWD subscribers. Once you’ve downloaded the software, you can start dialing.
FWD representative Brian Lustig pointed out that the system has 175,000 subscribers already, and would grow and grow once people realized that the more people using VoIP, the more likely it would become a standard, cheap method for long distance communicating.
With a headset, the user can also work at their computer while chatting away.
Free World Dialup subscribers can dial *353 (city code) number and immediately reach any regular phone number in Ireland at no charge. Free World Dialup is run by Jeff Pulver, co-founder of Vonage and one of the VoIP industry’s leading visionaries. For more information on this promotion, or to become a Free World Dialup subscriber, visit http://www.freeworldialup.com/.
“On St. Patrick’s Day it is especially important for friends and family to be able to communicate with one another,” Pulver said. “Allowing our subscribers to call any person in Ireland for free offers a unique way to share the potential and promise of Internet telephony with hundreds of thousands of people across North America and Ireland.”
Pulver is a compelling VoIP evangelist. At a December 2003 conference in Washington, D.C., he noted the extent to which the technology had spread already and how it could do much more than traditional phoning.
“IP Communications is happening everywhere as shown by the use of IP Phones with General Tommy Franks during the war in Iraq,” he said. “In fact, IP Communications is being used today in Government, the Military, Education, by Consumers, and just about every business sector.”