What Do Verizon's Bandwidth Caps Mean for Fast VoIP?

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A few days ago, Verizon became the latest wireless provider to implement broadband caps on its data network. It seems to be a trend with mobile carriers and there doesn't seem to be any way of slowing it down. Bandwidth caps for mobile networks are here to stay and it seems that these caps will even extend to the new LTE networks when they begin rolling out. Only a few companies are still offering unlimited data plans and that's because their networks aren't as crowded as the others. Sprint for example still doesn't put a limit on wireless bandwidth usage.

Unfortunately, this is bad news for VoIP users who have come to rely on using the mobile services of VoIP extensively. But a little math shows that VoIP actually uses up only a minuscule amount of data. As an example with the correct settings, a 12 minute VoIP call can use up less than 500KB of bandwidth. With data caps on Verizon being around 5GB, this translates into a whopping 85 days of continuous calling! So you can't use up your data caps even if you want to - not even half in fact.

Of course, your actual usage will be far more than just VoIP. Videos, webcams and even regular heavy surfing can cut into your bandwidth usage pretty fast leaving less time for VoIP. It's inevitable that you'll begin to think twice about making long phone calls. But since you'll probably be calling on smartphones, the market will throw up solutions which will allow you to monitor your bandwidth in real time and even alert you when you step over your limits. There are already applications on the marketplace which do this. For businesses, this doesn't really matter. Most people at work will be using VoIP phones which are hooked up to the Internet through wires which of course possess no such bandwidth limitations.

The true impact of bandwidth caps on VoIP will be realized only after we analyze the usage patterns of people to figure out how much time they actually need to spend on the wireless data network. For example at home or even at work, mobile phones can be configured to automatically switch to wifi mode without triggering any data usage on the wireless lines. This should already cut down on a significant amount of talk time.

The verdict isn't out yet, but the impact of wireless bandwidth caps on VoIP is likely to be little to none. VoIP is very bandwidth friendly with the proper codecs and since the usage at home and work can be discounted, it's possible that there's no need to worry about paying extra for going over your data limits.

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