"analog to digital, back to analog"
Scott Edwards, President of Netranom Communications, told Putnam Rotarians today how internet broadband enables people to communicate with convenience and economy. Broadband access came to a nearby industrial park (through a repeater station) and communication costs dropped from $1,600 to $129 per month, "at four times the speed."
The technology is called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and Netranom provides the service to homes and businesses, together with a broad range of related services: Cabling, computer networking, wireless internet, security and web site hosting.
A home with internet access can save as much as 70 percent from the cost of traditional phone service, Edwards told the group. "I have both," he said, "because I want redundancy: If the cable is out, I have the phone; if the phone is out, I have VoIP."
About 80 percent of the state now has broadband access, and digital transmission combined with the high capacity of broadband makes VoIP practical.
"Simply put," said Edwards, "the analog sound waves are converted to digital form." The digital signal goes out over the internet. At the receiving end, the digital signal is converted back to analog sound waves.
All this is accomplished through a variety of arrangements according to customer needs: phone to phone, computer to phone, or computer to computer. A computer with a microphone and a camera can exchange real-time video along with voice. "Go to Skype," said Edwards. "You can have free visual and audio communication with any spot in the world."
Many Netranom customers combine VoIP with traditional telephone service. A business may have telephone service from outside, and VoIP for an intercom among work stations. A company with several geographical locations can connect all offices by VoIP. "A call here can be transferred to an office in Charlotte or Atlanta.
"One company had an employee move to Richmond. With VoIP, she works from her home as if she is still in the office here. Callers from outside can't tell the difference.
"Many companies are moving offices into homes," said Edwards. "A company can reduce its office space from 6,000 square feet to 900 square feet."
A popular arrangement among Netranom customers is "mobile links": A telephone number can be set with VoIP to ring at multiple locations simultaneously, at the office, at home, on a cell phone or even at the beach house.
"You are always available; you never lose business because you are out of the office.
"Voice communications have priority for transmission," says Edwards. "A movie downloading over the same network will pause while someone is on the phone.
"Most of the complaints on delays and echoes arise because people don't program the analog-digital converters properly."
Netranom has served the area for over ten years from an office in Hurricane. The company now has additional offices in Huntington and Teays Valley.
As for the company president, Scott Edwards is a member of Putnam Rotary and serves on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. And, not the least of his civic duties, Edwards is also Mayor of the City of Hurricane.