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  #1  
Old 02-22-2005, 12:54 PM
duffer duffer is offline
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Vonage broadband cell phone service.

This is probably as much an IMHO as it is a GQ. Please move punt it to whatever forum is best.

I went to Vonage's site and poked around for a bit, but rather than wade through all the documentation, I thought I'd try to get some anecdotal evidence from Dopers.

How does this work exactly? Is the $25/mo advertised accurate? Does it affect connection speed? Start-up costs?

If you or anyone you know uses this would you recommend it? And what else do I need to know before cancelling my CellularOne contract?


Thanks for any help, and feel free to add to anything I haven't brought up.
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2005, 01:00 PM
Exgineer Exgineer is offline
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It works pretty much as advertised but it's a bandwidth hog. So much so that it may not work well with slower DSL service. You can also pretty much forget about downloading/uploading anything while you're on the phone.

It doesn't support E911 either, but if you can live with that it's worth looking into.
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2005, 01:07 PM
holmes holmes is offline
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Not sure if this will help you or not...

We bit the bullet and ordered the home-based plan, supposed to arrive on Friday. Total start-up price was $70. That's $25 pre-paid, $30 set-up and $10 for shipping the equipment ( A Linksys Router) 3 day delivery and tax. I think you have to have a home-based plan in order to use the mobile, which is an additional $9.99 a month. You can purchase the hardware from the usual sources : best buy, office max etc, but will be charged an activation fee.

You plug in your existing phone into the router and it's supposed to be ready to go.

We're currently paying aprox. $100 per month for our MCI plan, so we're talking a pretty good savings. We'll see....
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  #4  
Old 02-22-2005, 01:11 PM
holmes holmes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exgineer
It works pretty much as advertised but it's a bandwidth hog. So much so that it may not work well with slower DSL service. You can also pretty much forget about downloading/uploading anything while you're on the phone.

It doesn't support E911 either, but if you can live with that it's worth looking into.
It does support 911, just in a different way:
Quote:
Vonage offers 911 Dialing to all customers. When you dial 911, your call is routed from the Vonage network to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for your area. (What is a PSAP?) There are several important differences between our Emergency Services dialing and traditional 911 Dialing that you need to know:
911
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  #5  
Old 02-22-2005, 01:13 PM
holmes holmes is offline
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Opps, didn't notice the "E" 911. Carry on....
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  #6  
Old 02-22-2005, 01:32 PM
duffer duffer is offline
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So, does the home-based plan cover only the land-line we have now? And the $9.99 is added if we want to use it for the cellphone? Even at $25 for land-line alone, it would save us money as our basic service is about $50 now.

To add some specs, we have cable modem, and I'm running this router. Of the 4, one is used for the PC, one for the X-Box and 2 are open.

My wife mostly surfs, while I do the majority of down/up-loading, so being a bandwith hog isn't a big concern.
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  #7  
Old 02-22-2005, 01:45 PM
holmes holmes is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
I don't think its a cellphone as much as using your laptop to make phone calls on. It's called Softphone: http://www.vonage.com/features.php?f...paon0p9t3v1o00

It's supposed to be easy to connect to an existing LAN, but you may have open a port dedicated to it. I'll know more in few days, when it turns up and I connect it to our LAN.
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  #8  
Old 02-22-2005, 02:01 PM
pilot141 pilot141 is offline
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Location: Mostly Texas
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I've been using it for 5 months now and have been extremely happy with the service.

I signed up for it online (with a referral) and they sent me the modem (free IIRC). With the referral I got one month free, and after that it's been $16.74/month (I signed up for the 500-minute plan).

Pluses: No startup costs, no taxes (other than a 3% sales tax), no telemarketers, I can check my voicemail online/away from the house, I can forward calls to any number, and I'm saving $35/month vs what I'd be paying to SBC for the same thing.

Minuses: It's only as reliable as your broadband connection (mine has been very reliable), you must sign up for 911 service and if you move you must tell Vonage so they can re-establish the service at your new address.

Could go either way: Bandwidth issues. You can tweak how much bandwidth the phone uses with their "bandwidth saver", although I've never had to mess with it.

Overall I've been happy with the setup. The fact that I NEVER get an unwanted call and that I'm only paying $15.99 + tax for a phone line helps!
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  #9  
Old 02-22-2005, 02:32 PM
duffer duffer is offline
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Dang it. I was looking to use it for cell service. It looks like it's for home use only after looking through the site again. Oh well, thanks for the help everyone.
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  #10  
Old 02-22-2005, 02:42 PM
Exgineer Exgineer is offline
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I'm not really trying to be snide here, but I am curious.

What led you to believe VoIP could replace a cell phone?
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  #11  
Old 02-22-2005, 03:30 PM
duffer duffer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exgineer
I'm not really trying to be snide here, but I am curious.

What led you to believe VoIP could replace a cell phone?
Nothing snide about it, as now I'm wondering the same thing. I think I'm just so used to seeing phone ads as either long-distance or cell service, I assumed it was for VoIP cell service. Now I know.
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  #12  
Old 02-22-2005, 04:46 PM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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I've been using Vonage for about a year now. Before that, I used Packet8 for a few months, but we had voice quality issues with them, and our Vonage quality is excellent. I'm on the $25/month plan, and the total bill each month is $27 and some odd cents, and that gets what I think is an unlimited amount of phone time (at least I've never been billed for more). That price gets *all* the features - call waiting, caller ID, call waiting caller ID, voice mail, forwarding, and even fax machines work. What's more, when I travelled to the in-laws' at Thanksgiving, I took it with me, connected to their Internet, and had our local phone line with me in their city.

It's not that much of a bandwidth hog - the highest setting is 90 kbps, which is not a big bite out of my cable modem's bandwidth. But you can also dial it down to 50 kbps, and I've played with this, with no noticeable loss of quality. I've also never noticed any interruptions when the computer is downloading/uploading.

It doesn't matter too much what kind of router you have - the VoIP box they send you goes right after your cable/DSL modem, then your router goes after that. That way, the VoIP box can give the voice packets a higher priority to preserve voice quality. Some of the newer VoIP boxes they use have a couple of extra ethernet ports right on them, so you may not even need your router anymore.

Another thing I did was to disconnect my house from the phone company's line. I did this at the box on the outside of my house where all the phone lines connect. Then I connected the VoIP box's phone line to a phone jack on my wall, and now all the phone jacks in my house are available for the Vonage line. Note: you don't want to connect the Vonage box to your house's wiring if your house is still connected to the phone company.

Another nice feature, by the way, is that you get email notification when you get a voice mail message, and you can even listen to that message through your web browser, on any computer, by logging in to the Vonage site.

If you do sign up for Vonage, be sure to do so through a referral from someone else, since they (and I think you) get service credit for doing so. PM me if you don't know anyone else to refer you.
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  #13  
Old 02-22-2005, 08:30 PM
cstamets cstamets is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtC
It doesn't matter too much what kind of router you have - the VoIP box they send you goes right after your cable/DSL modem, then your router goes after that. That way, the VoIP box can give the voice packets a higher priority to preserve voice quality. Some of the newer VoIP boxes they use have a couple of extra ethernet ports right on them, so you may not even need your router anymore.

I've been looking at Vonage for awhile. I just haven't had the guts to pull the trigger.

I was looking at their newest device at Best Buy today. It appears that they've changed things and are now telling you to plug the device into an open port on your router instead of plugging the device straight into your cable modem. It doesn't look like it even has the ports on it anymore to allow you to plug a router or computer into it like they used to recommend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtC
Another thing I did was to disconnect my house from the phone company's line. I did this at the box on the outside of my house where all the phone lines connect. Then I connected the VoIP box's phone line to a phone jack on my wall, and now all the phone jacks in my house are available for the Vonage line. Note: you don't want to connect the Vonage box to your house's wiring if your house is still connected to the phone company.

This may be the last bit of information I needed. You just plugged the Vonage box right into a wall jack instead of a telephone, and all the other jacks work? Nothing special (except disconnecting the house wiring from the phone company, of course)? My wife hasn't liked the idea of not being able to use the regular phone jacks. I don't think it's that big of a deal, but what am I gonna do?
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  #14  
Old 02-22-2005, 11:12 PM
Bill H. Bill H. is offline
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Crap, I wish I would've known about the referral bit; I signed up yesterday for their low-end service, and they charged $55 for setup.

One thing I should mention. Their phone technical support is HORRIBLE. Like, I literally couldn't find a human to talk to after going through every permutation of their "press 2 if your favorite color is yellow" thing. Several tries, I got transferred to a busy signal. After 20 minutes of trying with no success, I gave up. It was really frustrating.

The reason I wanted to talk to somebody: They mailed out the VoIP router, but it won't show up for a week or two. I want the voice mail to have a message on it (is that too much to ask?) and the web site only describes how to do that when you have physical connectivity set up. (Turns out the answer is on the web site (you look up and call a number and access your account through it like any other voice mail system) but way hidden. So hidden that when I went to find it later, it took another 20 minutes to find it.

Of course, once it's all set up, assuming it actually works I don't see why you'd ever need support, so this probably isn't a big deal. I love that it emails you your messages.

Now if only I could hook a PBS like Asterisk to it.
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  #15  
Old 02-22-2005, 11:16 PM
Bill H. Bill H. is offline
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s/PBS/PBX/
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  #16  
Old 05-02-2005, 02:13 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Bad news re Vonage 911

I just happened to have C-SPAN on last night and overheard Congressman Kirk from Illinois quizzing FCC Chairman Martin about Vonage's performance with 911 service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vonage
When you dial 911, your call is routed from the Vonage network to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for your area. (What is a PSAP?) There are several important differences between our Emergency Services dialing and traditional 911 Dialing that you need to know:
One difference, apparently, being that Vonage can take up to 30 minutes to route your call to local 911 service - unless it's after business hours, when it may go straight to a voicemail box.

Chairman Martin admitted at one point that two shootings had resulted from Vonage's non-response to a Houston customer calling for help during a break-in. Texas is now suing, and Michigan threatening to sue, the company.
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  #17  
Old 05-02-2005, 05:30 PM
sj2 sj2 is offline
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I'd go with yak.com's plan myself. Vonage is too expensive IMO. The 911 issue is terrible all around.
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  #18  
Old 05-03-2005, 10:45 AM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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It looks to me like tak.com charges 29.99 for the same level of service that Vonage charges 24.99.
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  #19  
Old 05-03-2005, 10:46 AM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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s/tak\.com/yak.com/
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  #20  
Old 05-03-2005, 07:24 PM
Plan B Plan B is offline
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We love Vonage. No problems with 911.
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