Friday, October 06, 2006

VOIP

I figured I'd tell everyone about my experiences with VOIP (Voice Over IP). Basically, VOIP is a newer phone service technology in which no phone lines are used - it's all done over the internet. Basically, you plug in the router they give you to your high-speed internet connection, and you, in turn, plug the phones into the router. Wala, that's it. Your phone rings just like it used to, and when running efficiently (as it does 98% of time), you really can't tell the difference between VOIP and a regular phone line.

We were fed up with paying upwards of $50-$70 a month to Verizon, so we decided it couldn't hurt to at least give it a try. Specifically, we chose the company Vonage (you've seen the commercials) as it has been around for the longest and its supposedly the most reputable. Because VOIP doesn't use any actual phone line, there are FAR fewer taxes than there are with a standard phone company. A Verizon plan which claimed to be $50, actually ended up costing us closing to $70. With our service, it's $24.99 a month, and with tax it comes to $27.24 total. This price includes all local and long distance calls, with all of the features you're used to (caller ID, voicemail, etc.). Additionally, you can add a "virtual" number to your account which is basically another number people can call to reach you. The benefit of this is that if you live in one state, but all of your friends live in another state/country (Israel, for instance), your friends can call the # that will be a local call for them, yet reach you in another state. It's a pretty neat technology and I'm interested to see where it goes from here.

There are a couple of issues that one must be aware of, however. First of all, one must have a high-speed internet connection; dial-up won't do it. And most VOIP is only compatible with a cable modem - most of you taking advantage of the Verizon $14.99 DSL will probably be out of luck. Also, if you do a lot of downloading and other things that take up bandwidth, you're likely to get choppy reception and/or a delay. Finally, of course, this is dependent upon your internet connection, so if you lose power, your phone service stops. However, they have a call-forwarding feature in place that if you're VOIP isn't working, you can have all calls forwarded to another phone (ie, cell).

It's pretty amazing that the overwhelming majority of people I talk to have no idea about VOIP and/or Vonage. For those of you that may be interested, I recommend checking out this Vonage forum site which discusses VOIP in general, and Vonage specifically. It's a user-friendly site with something on it for novices and experts alike. If you're having a problem or any questions about the service, as I have along the way, you can post your question in the forum and you're likely to get a response quickly. Watch the news section for breakthroughs in the technology, among other things.

9 Comments:

Anonymous bots member said...

I have vonage and it's been a mixed experience. I like their features but the call quality is not always good.

8:57 AM, October 06, 2006

 
Anonymous aishel said...

Sounds cool. I have the Verizon $14.99 plan, but the only way to have that is if you also have a Verizon dial tone. If you don't have a verizon dial tone, you don't qualify for the $14.99 price.

The $27.24 that you're paying looks like that is just for the phone. How much are you paying for your high speed internet connection?

We're paying for the basic local only Verizon plan (~$25/month) plus the DSL ($15). Somehow we're paying ~$20 in taxes and fees because our monthly bill is $61 or so.

9:05 AM, October 06, 2006

 
Blogger AlanLaz said...

Aishel - I think we pay like 40-50 for the Comcast High Speed Cable. Our options were to either save money on internet (and go with Verizon DSL) or save on the phone bill (and go with Vonage, but pay more for internet). Basically, our cost was about the same for either option, so we went with the Comcast Cable connection with the Vonage since the cable connection is much faster than the DSL (I tried both). The DSL wasn't fast enough for me, considering I was used to a ridiculous connection speed living at UMD.

Plus...I just can't justify paying those damned taxes.

9:11 AM, October 06, 2006

 
Anonymous aishel said...

Makes sense. But even with those taxes, I still end up paying less. Although if you factor in our cell phone bill...

Since we use our cell phones so much, we have a lot of minutes on our plan, which is why we only have a local plan with Verizon.

9:25 AM, October 06, 2006

 
Anonymous dude said...

"And most VOIP is only compatible with a cable modem - most of you taking advantage of the Verizon $14.99 DSL will probably be out of luck"

That's incorrect, I've used VOIP with DSL for years.

11:56 AM, October 06, 2006

 
Blogger AlanLaz said...

Keyword: MOST

12:02 PM, October 06, 2006

 
Anonymous dude said...

I used VOIP with relatively slow DSL for years, you just need a network DSL modem, as opposed to a USB one, and a router. If you do have a USB one, you can still use skype which works completely through your computer, but not the other VOIP companies, which have a phone adapter to plug into your network. There's no reason VOIP shouldn't work with virtually any DSL connection, as long as you aren't doing any major uploads or downloads at the same time.

12:08 PM, October 06, 2006

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should check out sunrocket as well - $200/year

1:29 PM, October 10, 2006

 
Anonymous Warren Moon said...

VOIP works with any Internet connection, DSL, Cable, Microwave, Satellite, etc.

And the bandwidth problem is not usually on the download side, but on the upload side. Internet Service Providers give you significantly more download bandwidth than upload bandwidth.

4:34 PM, October 16, 2006

 

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