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Leading VoIP Providers Outperform Regular Phone Carriers in Overall Audio Quality

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Old September 18th 06, 06:38 AM posted to comp.dcom.voice-over-ip
Knowing About
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Default Leading VoIP Providers Outperform Regular Phone Carriers in Overall Audio Quality

VoIP providers still lag behind PSTN in important areas, including
audio delay; 12 leading VoIP providers studied and ranked in new
competitive intelligence study
* Among VoIP providers, VoIP digital phone service ranks first for
reliability and audio clarity
* VoIP service providers show overall improvement over the last
year's results in key performance indicators such as service
availability and audio clarity
* Competing VoIP providers in New York and San Francisco markets,
including digital cable, VoIP phone and PC-based software phone,
included in study - all benchmarked against PSTN
* Keynote study is first to include last-mile - including media and
VoIP adapters - to provide true consumer perspective
* Voice service quality trend analysis included in study to help VoIP
providers understand impact of infrastructure changes over past six

SAN MATEO, Calif., - September 14, 2006 - New insights into the
performance of leading VoIP providers was released today by Keynote
Systems (Nasdaq: KEYN), the global leader in Internet and mobile test
and measurement services. Keynote's third VoIP competitive
intelligence study revealed that overall VoIP quality has improved
across the board since Keynote's last study in December 2005 and that
the leading VoIP providers have actually surpassed PSTN (traditional
phone service) in overall audio quality, but still lag behind PSTN in
audio delay.

Twelve leading VoIP providers are part of the benchmark study that
includes AT&T (NYSE: T), Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Lingo, Packet8, Skype
(Nasdaq: EBAY), SunRocket, TimeWarner Cable (NYSE: TWX), TrueVoice,
Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Vonage (NYSE: VG), Vonics and Windows Live
Messenger (Nasdaq: MSFT). The complete Keynote VoIP competitive
intelligence study, including detailed rankings, is available for

In order to benchmark and rank the quality of consumer VoIP services,
Keynote measured the relative performance of the leading VoIP providers
in the New York and San Francisco markets, including digital cable,
adapter-based VoIP (hard phone) and PC-based software (soft phone)
services, as well as the performance of leading VoIP providers against
PSTN service in those cities. Keynote then rated the leading VoIP
service providers on critical performance factors that influence the
end-user experience using Keynote Voice Perspective®, which is
Keynote's VoIP quality test and measurement product.

Survey Results Reveal Overall Improvement in VoIP Quality, Variations
Between Cable and DSL

Based on the results of the survey, which was conducted over a one
month period from Aug. 1-Aug. 31, 2006, Keynote found that overall
reliability among the various competing VoIP providers had improved
across the board and that the leading digital cable providers had in
fact outperformed PSTN in overall reliability. Overall reliability is a
computed index score based on performance measurements in three
performance factors: service availability, average number of dial
attempts and dropped calls.

Leading digital cable VoIP providers were also found to deliver better
audio quality than the competition, with the leading cable providers
achieving excellent audio responsiveness (a measure of audio delay) and
audio clarity (measured by Mean Opinion Score, or MOS), two key
contributors to overall audio quality. However, there was still room
for improvement among the rest of the pack, with 10 of 12 VoIP service
providers studied achieving less than a 4.0 MOS, which is considered to
be "toll quality," that is, comparable to the audio quality of a
toll call over PSTN.

Despite the shortcomings of the lower-ranked service providers, the
overall average MOS of the VoIP providers studied continues to improve
over time, with the overall average MOS of 3.58 reaching levels
comparable with GSM mobile phone quality. In Keynote's December 2005
study the overall average MOS among VoIP providers was 3.55.

The study also examined the relative performance variations of the
various VoIP service providers (as well as against the PSTN benchmark)
during peak versus non-peak hours in terms of audio delay and Mean
Opinion Score. It had been thought that cable modem subscribers would
suffer overall service degradation during peak hours (8:00 PM-1:00 AM
EDT), however the study revealed that while cable modem subscribers did
experience greater instances of audio delay during peak hours, audio
clarity (as measured by Mean Opinion Score) was not affected by the
increased traffic associated with peak hours. DSL connections, on the
other hand, were found to deliver more consistent peak versus non-peak
audio delay performance, but were less consistent as measured by MOS.

Although the top performers in the consumer VoIP services market have
improved the quality of call audio, calls placed on VoIP phones
continue to exhibit considerably more audio delay than calls placed on
traditional PSTN phones. This audio delay can cause callers to talk
over each other, leading to conversational disruption and missed
information, which can create frustration among users, especially in a
business setting.

Study Focuses on End-User Experience and Includes Skype and Windows
Live Messenger

The third Keynote VoIP Competitive Intelligence Study rates the
relative performance of PSTN, Digital Cable, VoIP hard phone and VoIP
soft phone service providers (such as Skype and Windows Live Messenger)
in the New York and San Francisco metro areas. It compares VoIP service
providers based on reliability and audio clarity over consumer cable
and DSL lines and evaluates network carrier performance on end user
perceived call quality.

The study sought to identify industry trends in service level
performance since the last Keynote VoIP study and evaluate the range of
performance between the best VoIP service providers and the worst. The
study also examined variations between the peak and prime-time
performance of VoIP providers over various media and pinpointed the
strengths and weaknesses of each service provider and various voice
service technologies.

The current study was expanded from eleven providers in the second
study (results announced on January 25, 2006) to 12 providers (and 13
services). Data for the study was collected over a one month period,
from August 1 through August 31, 2006.

The Keynote study provides an objective assessment of the critical
performance factors that affect end-user perception of a VoIP service.
While several providers and networks did well in certain areas, no
single provider or network dominated the study in all metrics
considered. However, the results of the study indicate that in the last
year, the industry as a whole has shown marked improvement in the key
performance indicators such as Service Availability and Average MOS.

Analysts estimate that residential adoption of VoIP service will grow
to over 26 million homes in 2008 in the US, up from 6.5 Million in
2004. The SMB and enterprise market forecasts are equally aggressive.
Even so, VoIP reliability and audio clarity remain important perceived
factors that limit the widespread adoption of VoIP in consumer markets.
Additionally, a high rate of customer churn based on dissatisfaction
with service levels makes it difficult for carriers to break even. Some
analysts estimate it can take as long as four years for some VoIP
service providers to recoup the marketing and other costs associated
with luring a subscriber. While VoIP providers can take heart at the
strides they have made in improving overall audio quality since the
last Keynote study, there is still work to be done in order to address
consumer perceptions about overall VoIP performance versus regular
telephone service.

"As VoIP continues to move into the mainstream and challenge the
incumbent carriers in major markets nationwide, consumers have started
focusing on two important differentiators, audio quality and
pricing," said Vik Chaudhary, vice president of marketing and product
management at Keynote. "As the results of the Keynote study indicate,
VoIP providers have overcome a major hurdle in the past seven months by
addressing concerns about overall audio quality, but they still have
work to do to improve the consistency of their service levels during
peak versus non-peak hours and to decrease the variation in performance
levels between the top performers and the rest of the pack."

With this latest study, Keynote continues to extend its test and
measurement expertise to embrace emerging technologies such as VoIP,
streaming and wireless, which are increasingly being adopted by both
consumer and enterprise users. As VoIP emerges as an influential
technology that promises to cut consumer phone bills and enterprise
communications expenses, the Keynote rankings help assess overall VoIP
quality and highlight market leadership among the various providers.

How the Study Was Conducted

The Keynote VoIP Competitive Intelligence Study was conducted using
Keynote's Voice Perspective? to evaluate critical performance
factors that affect the consumer's experience with Internet telephone

Keynote placed local and long distance VoIP calls to destination phone
numbers on a standard (PSTN) phone service. Calls were placed from San
Francisco and New York once every 30 minutes on every VoIP provider and
network carrier combination. A total of 125,000 calls were placed over
a month-long period. Calls placed using competing VoIP services were
compared to traditional phone "toll quality" standards to determine
what residential customers can expect when switching from traditional
phone lines to VoIP.

The full study, which is available for purchase from Keynote, includes
detailed results, custom analysis of the data and all raw measurement

For more information : www.knowingabout.com


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