Vonage?

Getting fed up with my SBC bills and considering alternatives. A co-worker ditched DSL, went with some other cable provider for broadband, and is now setting up Vonage for voice stuff. Anyone here doing anything like that? Quality any good? I know the services weren’t top-notch the last I did research on it.

Quality’s fine, price is great, customer service (if you ever need to call 'em) is borderline unreachable.

That is somewhat encouraging. I see references to their SLA on their site, but what is the uptime percentage? I can put up with crappy customer service if the uptime is good.

I’ve had both Vonage and AT&T’s Call Vantage for over a year now. Things have gotten a lot better in the past six months with call quality. For instance, if we were to call someone in our general area (SBC) the call quality was fine. However, if we made calls to a different county using Centell or Alltell or one of these other companies, the sound quality was poor to the receiver. Recently though, they seem to have fixed the problem. I think a lot of it has had to do with everyone getting organized to handle it properly.

In terms of quality when I use my cell phone to call home, it is perfect. The only times you have a problem is if you decide to strangle your bandwith with downloads, even then, it’s not that bad. Call Vantage gives you a router that goes in front of your other routers to make this less of an impact, but I don’t use it that way.

Obviously, if your Internet is out, so is your phone, and 911 is still shoddy, so you’ll want a cell phone or something as back-up if that’s a concern for you.

K

We just got Vonage last week. There’s a little flakiness and some kinks to work out, but overall I’d say we like it.

I’ve had Vonage in the house for six months now, as well as having done a number of installs for others as part of my job.

I’ve never really noticed a quality problem, and that’s with a near constant torrent upload / download load on my cable broadband connection. Calls to the baby brother serving over in South Korea (seven cents a minute) come through clearly as well.

Avoid the Linksys Vonage and wireless router all-in-one hardware whenever possible, as the company never really supported firmware upgrades on the thing. Get the Linksys PAP2 unit that connects to a standard router instead.

Vtech makes a base unit that comes with two cordless phones and is upgradeable to four. I’ve not really had any problems with them.

Motorola just entered the Vonage field as well, with regular phone adapters and cordless phone units as well. I’m a big Motorola cable modem hardware fan, so I’d like to try them out sometime.

I’ve been using Vonage for a couple years now; I’ve only ever had a brief outage once that I can remember (that was their fault, that is – when the cable modem goes down, the phone goes out, obviously).

I dunno, the Vonage rates seem kind of high compared to normal phone rates, especially if you’re just making local calls. As for long distance, why not use Skype or something?

  • Alan

Well, in Michigan, you’d be hard pressed to find local phone service for under $18 or so a month (at least last time I checked). The extra $7 gets you voicemail, caller ID, all your long distance, call waiting, etc etc etc.

As for why not Skype, well, 'cause I can’t transfer my existing phone number to it, and I can’t use it with all my existing phones.

I’ve had Time Warner’s digital phone on my roadrunner connection for a year now. Zero troubles, 99% uptime, and $39 a month flat fee. I’m pretty pleased with that.

I think Skype’s a year or so away from being able to compete with services like these. Also Skype voice quality tends to struggle when contending with certain firewall configurations.

I’m sold, starting the switch to Vonage today. Comcast + Vonage alone is almost equivalent to my SBC DSL charges and most of our calls tend to be longish distance.

The biggest issue with Vonage as I understand it, is that they have no way to do QOS on voip traffic, but that’s pretty much always a limiting factor if you don’t control the broadband connection. We (ACD.net in Mid Michigan) have a mix of voip, dsl, and dsl + voip packages. When we run DSL + voip we prioritize the voip traffic on our dslam, through QOS, so that no matter how much someone wants to download, it will always free up enough bandwidth for voip traffic.

We also do multiple voip lines over a single DSL connection, which I’m not sure Vonage will do, but that is still limited to 8 voip lines over a single connection, and of course the more voip lines you run, the better your connection needs to be. Though in most cases voip traffic is pretty minimal (averaging 64kb, peaking 128kb/sec).

Vonage has posted a net loss of $189.6 million from 1/1/05 through 9/30/05, but also had marketing expenses of $176.3 million during that same time frame… so I don’t know if they are just hemorraging money, or if their massive marketing investment is going to pay off in terms of name recognition and future business.

Useful data, thanks again. Another question: Which Vonage phone is best? I need to please a my better half and she’s one of those who says “Oh, what does it matter?”, then later “Hey, I hate this phone, who picked it?!??”. Fry’s appears to only carry the Uniden 169V and I don’t see reviews anywhere.

Edit: Never mind, realized that signing up entitles me to free or discounted hardware with which I can just use my current phone. Noting that Linksys PAP2 isn’t available through their site, where do I get something equivalent? Maybe I should set aside a couple of hours to try and sweet-talk a sales rep.

So this seems like a reasonable enough place to post my early Vonage impressions:

  1. Installation was reasonably painless.

  2. They fucked up my temporary virtual #. This was fun. I’m porting my old #s, but in the interim I use a couple virtual numbers. I started forwarding from my old service and…people were calling someone else. I’m like “WTF?” And I call the assigned new #, and it’s someone else. Turns out he’s a former Vonage customer that’s porting my new virtual #/i.e. his old real # to his new service.

  3. So enter Customer Service. Good Fucking Christ what a goddamned mess. First, there’s no form to just send them a question, every thing is basically “Navigate FAQ -> No solution? -> Please call us”. Calling tech support takes you to a call center in India where you deal with someone with an accent so thick that you have no idea what they’re saying. I explained the problem, the lady “talked to her supervisor” and said they’d take care of, okay, bye-bye, thank you for calling Vonage. click

No email confirmation, no order #, nothing. I have a feeling she had no idea what to do and just tried to get off the phone. Call back today, explain it to the second guy (who had a much clearer accent), and he reproed by calling the # and getting the previous owner (doh!).

Does he fix it? Nope. Transfers me to “Advanced Billing”, where I had a 25 minute wait time. Holy shit. Advanced Billing figured out the problem and just temporarily assigned me a new number. Whee!

Total time spent on phone today? 1 hour and 7 minutes, of which 50 minutes were on hold.

  1. Quality has been pretty crappy. Someone else I know on a different cable provider has similar quality, and this is with the 90K rate on a 6/.768 connection. It sounds like talking to someone on a shitty cell phone.

  2. The Web panel is reasonably nice…being able to setup call forwarding, download voice mails, etc. is very handy.

Still, we hardly ever use the house phones, so we’ll probably keep this, and my business line I’ll just forward to my cell, so no big deal.

I got Vonage about a month ago. My Verizon bill was $40-50 and MCI was another $25, so I was looking at some good savings.

Set up was… eh. Phone worked fine after plugging everything in. The package came with a Motorola hub-thingy. The docs said the red light should never be on. But it was on all the time. I couldn’t make it shut off. Contacting tech support was a pita, took me way too long to find a way to do so on their site. I sent them a form letter, they responded back with the basic troubleshooting stuff that was in the Motorola docs. Thanks.

I also had some issues placing and receiving calls for those first few days. Sometimes I’d get a fast busy signal when I picked up the phone. But after a couple of days things seemed to work fine. I’m thinking my problems were related to trouble-shooting the red light.

About a week or so after initial installation, the red light turned off. /shrug

It’s worked fine ever since. Quality is great.

I’m pretty happy, but mostly because of the price.

Oh, one more thing I forgot. After being on the phone for like 30 minutes with the first guy, he ends it with a goddamned sales pitch. It’s like, hey, I’m an irate customer, you’re about to transfer me somewhere that might be able to fix my problem, and NOW is a good time to start a fucking sales pitch? Are you shitting me?