Missed the point on thin clients

VoIP needs UDP and decent compression algorithms. Most systems sent "bursts" of traffic, which is why you got chunks dropped, rather than merely having continuous sound that was slightly degraded. What's worse, some tried using TCP.

If you're going to transmit to groups (eg: Internet Radio, conference calls, etc) you need multicasting. Sorry, but only an idiot tries to transmit point-to-point to many destinations. And only complete imbeciles try to do that with video.

(CU-SeeMe only worked well if you had a stack of interlinked reflectors, and each reflector could only cope with 8 low-grade signals, before maxing out the computer or the network.)

Probably the best "traditional" early VoIP program was Internet Phone. The signal quality was decent, and none of the other ptp VoIP packages had remotely as good handling of packet loss.

Of the "non-traditional" software, the best system was RAT (Robust Audio Tool) which was designed for multicast, but would work with unicast. It had excellent compression, and the ability to do conferencing made it exceptional.

RAT and the video tool VIC were used by Russian surgeons to perform a "remote" medical procedure, by directing American surgeons who had the theatre wired for sound and video. By multicasting the entire operation, it was possible for anyone to watch. Indeed, several medical schools were hooked into the MBone to watch events. Live demonstrations of this kind are not common.

VIC was very unusual for it's day, being able to transmit up to PAL resolution (625 lines) in 24-bit color. Naturally, on the Internet you don't get much of a frame-rate at that resolution. (5 fps is about it, and that puts a serious load on the network,)

But until you've used the MBone tools, and have experienced the true splendour of what these tools can achieve, don't write them off completely.

You can't reach the MBone? Your provider won't provide it? Oh, now that's a different kettle of fish. Providers, despite getting free access to the MBone (all they have to do is enable the option on the router), generally won't provide it to customers. Technical issues? No, greed issues. Multicasting makes wide distribution much easier and takes much less bandwidth to do so. If it were used for all Internet Radio, webcasts and video conferencing, you'd free up a huge amount of bandwidth.

So why aren't ISPs providing it, then? Because they don't know how to charge for it. It gives the consumer vastly superior performance, and ISPs want to be paid extra for it. But because of the way it works, they don't know how to do that.

Firstly, VoIP is far, far, far from a "Fad". It's more popular than ever, and truly about to explode.

Second, Live customer support is alive and kicking, for those companies who have a clue how to implement it. It's far from dead.

Third, acronyms are not on the way out.

Fourth, thin clients never were a fad..and they are around now as much as they ever were. What do you think your web browser is? Know how many businesses us web-based applications that solely work via a brwoser, with no plugins? That's thin-client at it's best.