Does VoIP offer better, equal or poorer quality than traditional phone service? It definitely depends on who you ask.
Two surveys provide very different views of VoIP service acceptance. The earlier study, commissioned by Brix Networks, concluded that almost 20 percent of all VoIP calls made during the past 18 months were deemed to be unacceptably poor. Moreover, during that time the quality of VoIP calls got continually worse.
The other survey found essentially the opposite. Commissioned by VoIP test equipment vendor Minacom, the study found that the mean opinion score (MOS) of VoIP calls has risen from 3.9 to 4.2 during the past year. MOS is a standard telephone companies use to measure perceived call quality.
Any mystery about the contradictory results fades with even a superficial look at the surveys. The Brix study looked at PC-to-PC services such as Skype, Google Talk, MSN and Yahoo Messenger. Minacom, on the other hand, focused on operator-controlled services offered by cable operators, phone companies and other established service providers.
The surveys show an expanding gap between two very different ways of providing VoIP. It's not surprising -- though clearly worth noting -- that VoIP is on two diverging tracks. PC-to-PC approaches essentially put users on their own once they download the software and launch the service. Conversely, offerings from service providers are far more robust because they constitute part of an actual service offering that is actively controlled and monitored.
Both have their role. The different approaches should be noted by IT managers and planners researching a move to VoIP.