Here's more evidence that VoIP is stepping towards the mainstream. Earthlink, who already offers a paid VoIP service via a deal with Vonage is now offering a free SIP-based softphone VoIP offering to let users talk outside of the traditional phone lines. This is more simlar to Skype or Free World Dialup than Vonage, which is designed mainly to connect to the traditional phone lines. In some ways it's interesting to see these two layers of the VoIP world develop (with plenty of overlap). At the surface, there are the pay-VoIP offerings that offer a gateway to traditional phone lines, and pretty much act just like traditional phone services, with a few more options. Then, beneath that, you have the VoIP offerings that simply avoid the traditional telephone system altogether (though, often add in offramps to reach traditional telephone networks later on). While some people think completely separate telephony is good enough, it will be very interesting to watch how both sides develop over time, and whether the completely below ground system really does start to take away a noticeable percentage of calls that would otherwise hit the traditional network at some point.
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