There were more advances than true innovations in the VoIP world in 2009. That's because some of the most important developments had more to do with commercial and political maneuvers than with technical creativity. Still, such maneuvers often helped spread the benefits of VoIP as much as did technical innovation. And collectively, the advances brought some already-evident trends into clearer focus. A key such trend is the increasing integration of voice with other applications and services. Another is the intensifying interest in HD voice. A third is the growing interconnection of VoIP services, in part in response to the possibilities that end-to-end HD voice offers. With such trends as background, here, in no particular order, are our top 25 VoIP advances of 2009.
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Phone.com has become the latest VoIP provider to offer iNums to its customers. iNums are virtual numbers with their own country code, which is 883. Instead of going to subscribers in specific countries, however, the way calls beginning with 44 go to the U.K., calls to 883 numbers go to VoIP subscribers, regardless of where they are in the world. iNums let callers from around the world reach the subscribers for the cost of a local call. As such, iNums amount to global toll-free numbers.
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High-definition (HD) voice technology has a lot of benefits. It vastly improves the audio quality of voice calls. In practical terms, it makes it easier for callers to understand different accents, and reduces the fatigue resulting from constantly having to guess whether a certain sound was, for instance, an "s" or an "f". But HD voice also has one big problem: It requires end-to-end IP connections to deliver its super-clear sound.
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Voxbone's iNum service gives subscribers a single number that can reach them no matter where in the world they or their callers are. INums use the recently created ITU country code +883, which means callers in any country can use the same number to reach the subscriber. Subscribers can likewise have calls to the number directed to them wherever they happen to be. They might even be in the middle of the Nevada desert – say, at the upcoming Burning Man festival.
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People who move a fair amount in their lives have trouble staying in touch, especially by phone. Every time they get a new address, they get a new phone number. That makes it hard for all but their closest friends to keep track of them. A recent Voxbone survey showed how much of a problem that can be over time. The survey found that some 26 percent of respondents had had more than 20 phone numbers in their lives. And 70 percent had lost contact with people as a result of changing phone numbers.
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