Vonage: Is there a Catch?

I am thinking about trying Vonage. I mean, $25 dollars for all the phone calls I can make?

But I don’t know anything about VOIP. So I’m wondering if the quality is poor. Does anyone have Vonage or know of people who do? Are there any rumors about satisfaction with this service? Are there hidden costs.

I’d love to hear from someone in the know!


I’ve had it for 6 months with no problems. Quality is as good as a cell phone. No hidden costs either (there’s a 3% sales tax). I think New Jersey has started taxing Vonage bills, but if you live anywhere else your bill should never be more than $26.

Okay, now I’m confused…is Vonage home phone service or cellular?

I assumed it was home since it’s VoIP and that you can also get broadband internet at the same time.

But if it’s cell phone quality, that’s pretty bad. Does it cut out every once in a while or garble speech? Is there a 3 second delay? I can’t stand talking on cell phones and I’ve tried all of the service providers. They all suck.

It’s not supposed to be a substitute for a mobile phone…it’s a home phone. Supposedly, you can use any regular cordless phone. But I agree…mobile phone quality is lacking. I don’t want that as a permanent and ONLY home phone. Hmm…still thinking about it.

A point I heard made on a radio show recently is that POTS (plain old telephone service) has been engineered over the last century to provide “five nines” reliability: the system works 99.999% of the time. That means that over the course of a year, your phone is out for about five and a quarter minutes.

For cell phone service we put up with lower reliability for the convenience of being able to make a call from anywhere. But with VOIP, the lower reliability isn’t offset by a comparable advantage. I don’t have any numbers for VOIP handy, but it has to be less than five nines, despite the claims of VOIP providers.

My Internet connection (and cable TV) was out for two full days last month. It was inconvenient, but if my phone had been out, too, it would really have been a pain.

Just consider this: in a power outage, POTS works, because the phone company provides the power even when yours is out. But VOIP probably won’t work in a power outage, or at least no longer than your UPS stays up. And consider the downside if you have an emergency and need to call 911 during a power outage.

So the question is, how much downtime are you willing to accept for a lower phone bill? Five hours a year? Ten? Twenty?

I switched to Vinage from Bell Atlantic I have the 500 Min/mo plan w/ fees and taxes in NJ it coes to abount 17.50 a month, no one knew I was using VOIP untill I told them.

Hmmm…so I suppose the issues are this:

  1. If my broadband goes wonky (which it does occasionally) I will be out of telephone service as well.
  2. I’m paying an incredibly low rate, so I can’t really expect perfection.
  3. Quality as reported here is at LEAST as good as a mobile phone, and maybe better.

I’m still considering it. I suppose I could try it for a couple of months and I really wouldn’t be out anything if I switched back to another plan.


I’ve had VOIP thru Cavalier telephone for about 8 months. It is $55 for unlimited calling and DSL. No taxes.

IME quality of reception is poor compared to a land line, but since half the time I’m talking on the phone, the other party is on a cell phone anyways, it does not make much of a difference to me. One time the service broke up during an important message for my SO though.

I keep reading that VOIP has really taken off with business customers, and I wonder if they are allocated more bandwith or something. I have a hard time believing that businesses would put up with any noticeable loss of quality, let alone the level of quality I am getting.

We’re cellular only, so we have no advantage. But I do want to poit out that my cellular quality is much better than any landline. Anyone know the tech specs? I think POTS only 300 to 3000 hertz bandwidth. Digital cell’s seems a lot clearer than POTS.

So I’m saying, if anyone says the quality (of the call, not the service) is a good as cellular, I don’t think you have a lot to lose.

Also, don’t be confused by the “free” phone for cellular quality, either!

I do telephone tech. support in a company that uses VOIP. IME, it sucks[sup]*[/sup]. Sound quality is often very poor, and many calls simply drop with no warning.

This does not bother my employers in the least; we are an outsourced call center… this means that a call that drops forcing the customer to call back is a call that can be billed twice to the parent company. :rolleyes: I look foreward to quitting this job as soon as I can, for several reasons.

[sup]*To be fair, the quality and droppage may be explained partially due to cell phone calls, customers accidentally hanging up when they put the phone down to fool with hardware, etc.[/sup]

I’ve had Vonage service for about a year (I had Packet8 VoIP service for about four months before that, but was unsatisfied). The voice quality of my Vonage line is absolutely indistinguishable from a POTS line. In the past year, I have not been aware of my cable going out, but I figure that if it does, I can use my cell phone for a while and still be way ahead.

I had a problem a month or so ago where the voice quality I was hearing would get garbled for about a second each minute. They ended up sending me another VoIP box, which solved the problem. I have Vonage service connected to my house phone lines, so it’s available at all the jacks in my house. Be sure to physically disconnect your house from the phone company before doing this.

The advantage is a lower phone bill. Depending on your calling patterns, this advantage could be small or big. For people that spend a lot of money on long-distance or international calls, this advantage could be huge. Likewise, the lower reliability is less of an issue for users that have one or more mobile phones. I think at this point, Vonage is targeting early-adopters who will typically have a mobile phone.

I fight into the above category. I just don’t make many phone calls nor do I receive a lot of them. The calls I do tend to make that last a long time are long distance, so it pays for itself that way.

Isn’t it kind of stupid and excessive to pay someone another fee if you’re already paying for your internet connection?

Since I replied earlier maybe I should add some info.

When I said “cell phone quality” I meant the current, digital phones. My Vonage quality is MUCH better than the crappy analog cell phones of ten years ago.

Yes, you risk losing your phone if your broadband connection goes out. Whether or not this is acceptable to you depends on how much you rely on your landline phone and how reliable your ISP is.

As for “paying extra”, again this depends on your situation. My current house was wired for DSL without the need for a phone line. If you have Cable for your broadband you are in the same boat. I was looking at $50/month for DSL, plus $40/month for very basic phone service ($21.99/month plus the required 90% cumulative tax rate ;)) for a total of $90/month.

I hardly ever use my landline (my cell phone is my primary phone - imagine that for someone who is on the road 15 days/month). So I ordered the $15/month/500 minute deal from Vonage. I never come close to using all of my minutes and I’m saving $25/month. In addition calls to London (where my sister now lives) are 3 cents/minute, and I’m looking at over $30/month in savings over a traditional landline.

That’s $360/year in my pocket, and so far I have had ZERO reliability/quality problems.

So for me it’s been a great deal that’s saved me money with no headaches. Of course, your situation might be different.

Also, you might never compose a post with as many slashes as I have!


BobT and pilot make a really good point. A traditional analog phone line is expensive even if you don’t make a single call. The line charge, taxes, and fees add up. Add to that any monthly charges for call-features (caller-id, call-waiting, vmail, etc.) and your bill easily exceeds a voip bill.

Another advantage that I have heard (but haven’t confirmed) is that you can take the little voip gateway with you when you travel and make calls “from home” using the hotel’s internet connection. Has anyone ever tried this?

Said by someone paying a “stupid and excessive” fee to subscribe to SDMB.

Something additional to consider beyond quality is that VOIP often doesn’t route 911 calls properly. If you abandon your land line in favor of VOIP service, you might want to have an alternate plan for summoning emergency services (such as a cell phone…and even those aren’t always reliable) to your home.

Many companies are using VOIP internally these days, so they can build one network for their computers and their telephones. In this case, they’d have as much bandwidth as they want to set up internally, since they don’t have to share and can always add more routers and cable.

I have VOIP through my cable company, not Vonage, but the concept is similar. The cable company disconnected the incoming phone lines and wired the VOIP box so that it feeds all phone jacks in the house.

With the cable company, we have “enchanced 911”, which correctly routes calls including name and address to the 911 center. Other VOIP providers offer similar services, usual at an extra charge.


  • It doesn’t work when the power’s off. We’ve decided our cell phones are the backup plan for that.
  • It doesn’t access the city’s non-emergency “311” number. This seems limited to landlines connecting over SBC. Cell phones can’t call the number, either.
  • It is not compatible with our home alarm system. We have to use a celluar backup for the alarm to reach the central office.