What can you tell me about the Vonage Internet long distance company? Does it work and is it a good deal?
This question was answered on February 7, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
One of the early claims of the Internet was that it was going to change the way that we communicate The telephone was supposedly going to become a relic because of the voice and video capabilities of the Internet.
Well, to date, the Internet hasn’t revolutionized the way most of us talk to one another, mainly because of some performance problems.
The first generations of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) worked and allowed users to eliminate long distance charges, but the sound quality was poor and it required users to act like they were using walkie-talkies because of the delays (Early systems used half-duplex, which only allowed one party to talk at a time.)
Over the years, quality of sound and full-duplex systems dramatically improved performance and with the right equipment, it is actually getting pretty close to what we expect from our traditional POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines.
The thing that makes Vonage a little different from previous attempts to use the Internet as a phone line is that it requires a broadband or high-speed connection and it uses hardware that is specifically designed to allow a standard telephone to plug in.
This eliminates the need for a computer or complicated software to make or take phone calls They include an adapter that converts your analog voice signal into a digital signal so that it can travel along the Internet to its destination.
In order to share your Internet connection between the Vonage converter and your computer, you will need a ‘router’ which is common way to share an Internet connection
Features like call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, call blocking and even voicemail are included in the service.
Vonage offers two different plans; a basic plan that covers unlimited local calls and 500 minutes of domestic long distance for $25.99 per month or an unlimited nationwide plan for $39.99 per month.
If you do business in another part of the country, you can actually sign up for a phone number in another area code so that your customers, friends and family won’t have to dial long distance to call you or you to call them.
The individuals that I have talked to that are using the service have all been happy with the performance, but I have only talked to a couple.
In some cases, you can use your current number and because it is an Internet based service, account management is all online They also offer international rates of 5 to 7 cents per minute to many major cities.
If you have a broadband connection and make or receive a lot of long-distance calls, it’s worth looking into You can get all of the ‘how does it work’ information and see if you can keep your existing number at: >http://tinyurl.com/5g6m</b>
If you want to experiment with Internet communications for free, you can try using NetMeeting, which is included in most versions of Windows or can be downloaded at: >http://tinyurl.com/5g8p</b> It supports voice and video, but is not near the quality of the pay services, but it is free!
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 7, 2003
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