A fair amount has been written about the advantages and disadvantages of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) or telephoning over the Internet. Anne Stuart covered the topic in a March 2003 Inc. article, Good Call, Robert X. Cringely visited the topic in his What's Next colum Internet Phone Service is Here in October 2003, and even more recently, Brian Clark touched upon VoIP's shortcomings in his March 2004 article, The Best Bang for Your Tech Buck.

The technology has been widely covered since 1998, as Matt Villano of CIO magazine notes in his March 15 article, IT Phone Home, but how come no one can agree whether it's come of age or it's still a technology in waiting? The three businesses profiled in Villano's story have all implemented VoIP, admittedly not without a few hassles, but each has found success in its use to help cut costs and connect distant employees and offices. And other writers mentioned above have offered similar praises from companies, but Clark casts a shadow on the advantages by highlighting security, bandwidth, and compatibility issues, among others.

So my question is, is it good or is it bad? Is VoIP all that the vendors, and businesses using it, crack it up to be? Or is it a technology that needs a few more wrinkles ironed out before small businesses chuck their old analog systems?