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Vonage VoIP

To start, I was frustrated with running up "local" long distance charges - which seem to be the only numbers I dial from home - so I ordered the Vonage VoIP phone service.  Also, cell phone converage at my house is pretty lousy, and my family balked at the idea of using a separate cell phone for the purpose.

I completed the installation of my Vonage IP phone "thing".  I was able to use my cell phone to dial in (phone rings), and I get a dial tone.

Cost is under $30 for 500 minutes of calling - no long distance charges within the US.

So, has anyone else tried this or other services like it?  Experiences to share?

It remains a hard sell to the family, since we have to change our home phone number.  Also, I'm fortunate that I've got a wiring closet so that I can possibly run the VoIP to all the lines in the house (this would be a problem otherwise).

Install time was under 2 hours.  The VoIP box acts very similar to a Linksys type wireless AP.  I opted to put the VoIP box as the first link to the cable modem, and then my netgear WAP next in line, which gets all the computers fed into it.  This allows the VoIP to mange QoS for phone calls.  The box comes with the ability to set the MAC address to keep the cable people happy (cable companies insist on having a device with the installed MAC address connected to the modem, so almost all modern devices allow for you to set the MAC address on the device to keep them happy).

By attaching the VoIP box next in line with the cable modem, I don't have to set up port forwarding to the box.  I don't run any servers from my house, so port forwarding is not usually a problem.

I really am hoping to put the screws to the local telco (Verizon), whose wireless (cell) service I enjoy, but I cannot stand my local phone service (service charges and local long distance out the wazoo).

All for now...

hoser
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I've been thinking about trying Vonage, but since my phone company offers unlimited domestic LD (including in-state) for $19.99 a month, I'm not convinced there would be a big cost savings. But thanks for the description -- the geek in me wants to give it a shot even if there's no rational reason for doing it.

John C.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Feedback on Vonage
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=110855

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Local number portability should allow you to move your existing number to Vonage.  Is it not available to you or something?  I had some problems getting a Verizon Wireless number ported to Vonage but I believe at least one of the hurdles that blocked me has been cleared to make that process easier.

A whole house can usually be wired with Vonage by disconnecting from the telephone company at the incoming interface then sending the output from the terminal adapter into the house wiring at any convenient jack.  There are limits to how many devices can be driven this way.

I've had Vonage for a while and, except for the number porting problem, it's been a good experience.  Some occasional echo and static but most of the time the voice quality is very good.  The features blow away most phone services.  Especially nice are the almost real time online billing and emailed voice mail.

Doug
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Just thought I'd mention my business partner and I have been using Vonage for a while now, and are both very, very happy.

Since our corporate entity is based in Phoenix, we both use 480 (Phoenix) area codes for consistency.  However, since I'm a Canadian currently living in Baja California, Mexico, I also have a Canadian vitual prefix I can use for my "permanent" Canadian number re banking, etc., for another $5 month.  We also have an 800 number so we can put it on our website and feel like we're "professional". 

Although I don't hide the fact I'm residing in Mexico from our clients, I don't make a big deal of it, either.  FWIW, I'm of the opinion that giving clients the ability to call me on a US or Canadian number has real benefits in reducing psychological distance barriers to conducting business.

One feature many people don't realize is that you can also travel with your Vonage: get to any broadband connection, and you have your phone right there.  Meanwhile, you can have it forward to your mobile or send a .wav file to your email.  If you only travel in the US, this may not seem like a big deal; if you travel internationally, this is incredible.

As an example, last November  my partner's mobile bill, mostly from people leaving him voicemail messages while he was in Mexico, was just shy of $1,200.  The next month, using Vonage, it was under $50. YMMV.

Mongo
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Thanks MarkT for the BoredB description.

hoser
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I've had Vonage for several months now, and after discovering a trick, I have to say my experience has been very positive with only minor glitches (which I'm happy to endure, knowing my hard-earned cash is not going to any telephone company, especially SPC - from which we switched).

First of all, I'm very suprised to hear you can't keep your number.  LNP (Local Number Portability) has been mandated nationally for a little while now, though there are circumstances (having to do with your CO) where it can't occur and the rule is nullified.

Anyway, I don't know what hardware Vonage sent you, but they sent me one of the Motorola VoIP modems (not sure if they use other brands elsewhere).  The Motorola box performs pretty well as a VoIP box, but SUCKS as a router.  I initially had a configuration similar to yours: cable modem - VoIP modem - main router/firewall.

Motorola's (presumably) crappy software would repeatedly flake out in various circumstances when ANY data was passing through the modem on its way to my computers, regardless of the effective data rates.  Sometimes it would hang (I'd get no dialtone), sometimes I'd get one-sided conversations, and sometimes I'd get choppy audio in one or both directions.  This occurred whether or not the VoIP modem was configured as a router or just a bridge. Moving the VoIP modem to the other side of the router solved the problem generally, and you *don't* have to configure port forwarding!

The relocate-the-modem suggestion was made by a very knowledgable, helpful tech support fellow at Vonage, by the way.

Marc W. Cygnus
Friday, June 18, 2004

Uh... that would be "SBC", not "SPC".

Been a long week...

Marc W. Cygnus
Friday, June 18, 2004

I agree with "Marc W. Cygnus" about the flakey Motorola NAT. I'm extremely pleased with the Vonage service in general, but it's absolutely essential to avoid using the Motorola adapter/router as a NAT pass-through.

On my machine I had to reboot the adapter 2-3x/day because TCP traffic would start to simply fail (UDP/ICMP made it through fine, the phone worked but TCP connections would just hang). I suspect all my forwarded BitTorrent traffic overflowed whatever connection-tracking structures it uses, causing any more to silently fail. Very annoying. Immediately after rebooting the adapter everything worked perfectly again for a couple of hours until I had to do it again.

BK
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

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