Skype and Vonage illustrate what is wrong with user communications: They are “closed” and not standards-based. These strategies support business models that are not in line with 21st Century wants and needs. They have to go!

I’ve been a user of Skype and Vonage voice over IP (VoIP) services for a long time. I use Skype to talk with my editor at Network World and to connect with a few friends back in England, while Vonage has reduced my regular phone bills enormously, particularly for international calls. These things are on the plus side.

The minus side? With Vonage it has been the aggravation factor: It is hard to get good quality, at least over DSL, without resorting to blind experimentation, and using it to support TiVo or a home alarm system is a pain. Even when everything appears to be working with Vonage, you get occasional weird sound-quality problems, and faxing is only moderately satisfactory (incomplete transmissions seem to account for about half of all faxes I send).

Yet again I have to wonder how na