Vonage Internet Phone Service

Category: Telephony

I'm thinking about switching to Vonage for my home telephone service. Can it completely replace the landline service I currently get from the phone company? Are there any gotchas I should know about?

Is Vonage Telephone Service Right For Me?

Vonage Internet phone service is one of the oldest consumer-targeted VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services. The company name is a play on its original slogan "(It's the) Voice Over Net Age". Vonage VoIP is used by 2.4 million customers worldwide now, who have opted to drop their traditional landline phone service from the telephone company.

Vonage plans include the Vonage World calling plan, with unlimited international calling to more than 60 countries for a flat monthly fee. The introductory fee is US $14.99 per month for the first three months; then the monthly fee jumps to $25.99. The Vonage Basic 500 plan gives you 500 minutes of local and long distance outbound calling in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada for $17.99/month. Incoming calls are free, but international rates apply for calls to other countries. At the low end, Vonage Lite gives you 200 minutes in the U.S. and Canada for $9.99/month.
Vonage Internet Phone

Vonage rates are competitive with other VoIP services. But that's not all you need to use the Vonage phone system. Vonage telephone service works with the Internet, but Vonage is not an Internet service provider. If you don't already have a high-speed connection (DSL, cable or fiber), you'll have to contract with an ISP for broadband Internet service and then sign up for Vonage internet phone service. A dial-up internet connection is simply not fast enough for the large amount of data that voice over internet requires.

You'll also need to buy or lease a preconfigured router from Vonage. They call it a "Vonage phone adapter" but it's really an off-the-shelf-router optimized for VoIP traffic. Then you need a phone to talk on. Chances are, your existing phone will work fine. Any phone with a standard plug (an "RJ-11 plug") will work with Vonage phone service, or you can buy a Vonage VKey - a USB thumb drive with the Vonage Softphone application on it. The softphone lets you make Vonage calls through your computer's speakers and plug-in microphone.

What About Call Quality and 911 Calls?

Like any VoIP phone service, Vonage phone services have some periodic issues with call quality. Usually, that has more to do with the quality of service from your Internet provider. Traffic jams on the Internet can cause parts of voice calls to be lost. Internet outages mean no Vonage phone services for you. Fax transmissions are especially sensitive to data losses, so you may have to re-send faxes or throttle back the fax transmission speed.

Emergency or 911 service is another critical difference between regular landline phone service and VoIP services such as Vonage Internet phone calling. There is no street address associated with a VoIP router, so you have to fill out a form telling Vonage where you will be calling from most of the time. In most U.S. areas, this address will be forwarded to emergency services such as police and fire departments when you call 911 using Vonage. Laptop and other mobile users may face delays in telling emergency services where they are in the physical world.

Monitored home alarm systems that rely upon phone service may also have problems with Vonage Internet phone service, or any VoIP service. If you have such an alarm system, check for compatibility with the alarm company before switching to VoIP.

Vonage customer support has also been a sore point with some customers. Cancelling a Vonage account was infuriatingly difficult in the past. You could not cancel online, you had to call the company and wait on hold a long time. Then you had to listen to a lengthy sales pitch before Vonage would actually cancel your account. (If you've ever tried to cancel an AOL account, you can sympathize.) Vonage also made it difficult to transfer your phone number to another phone service provider, until the Federal Communications Commission cracked down on that "customer retention" tactic in 2007. Now, a third-party service called Focal Communications handles number-transfers for Vonage.

The Vonage Contact page offers a link to email for customer service, and online self-service options. You can also find phone numbers for Sales and Customer Service, where live operators are available 24 hours a day.

I don't personally use Vonage, because in my area Verizon offers a phone/TV/internet bundle over FIOS, a fast fiber-optic service. Other telecom companies offer internet phone service similar to Vonage. Check with your current phone, cable or TV service provider to see if they offer a VOIP internet phone service, then compare their calling plans and prices to what Vonage is offering.

Do you have experience with Vonage phone service? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Vonage Internet Phone Service"

(See all 34 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Brendan
03 Jan 2011

I've had Packet8.com for about 5 years, chosen because they had a better call quality rating. I was very happy with the service. Cost about $35 a month including the taxes which were about $9 a month. (unlimited nationwide calls) I just recently switched to ooma.com cost $4 a month (unlimited nationwide calls). If I want some extra services like emailed voice messages or simultaneous ring to my cell phone I can pay an extra $10 a month.


Posted by:

Don
03 Jan 2011

Good article, held my intrest. other things that should be known, is that there are other VOIP services out there. I had Vonage for about 2 years, was paying $25 per month, but when you get the bill then you see the real price, when they add the taxes and fees. For me it was way to steep. We have 4 adults in the house, we never make calls to any foreign countries, but we can with our service, if we want too.
We went to a DSL Broadband ONLY from Qwest line, $46.99 bottom line per month.
We now have VOIPVOIP.com, that's not a misprint.
You need a PHONE ROUTER, but dod not have to buy it from them, you can or may already have a router, that will work, there are several compatiable routers, and you can see at their web site which ones are. I had an old SunRocket router. If you can't set it up you may have a friend that can.
After that, the price is $6.99 per month for access, and $.019 cents per minute for outgoing calls, free incoming calls. There are no additional taxes, fees, or anything else added.
You can port over your existing phone number, or have any area code that you want, if you don't port over.
Down side is that this is not a data line, so no faxes. Also, if you have anything else that needs a data line, it won't work. Ie. VA Health Buddy, phone connected to Direct TV to order movies, etc.
Seems like there is always a down side and an up side.
Up side to that is, there are free fax in and out sites you can sign up for, and send and receive faxes that way. But that's from a file, and for free is usually limited to two or three pages. I use efax and freefax, one is outgoing, and one is incoming.
You can set this up VOIPVOIP for autopay.Every month out goes $6.99. Don't even have to think about it, but I am notified by e-mail.
I also setup auto recharge, when that drops below $2.00 it recharges, or in other words adds another $10.
All I'M saying is that you should look at all the options.

Regards,

Don


Posted by:

Fred
04 Jan 2011

Vonage is a great service. Cost around $35.00 a month.Used it for 2 years,then found a better product with better voice quality. Ooma VOIP cost from $199.00 to $249.00 for the Ooma device.
I purchased from Costco. Thats it no more phone bills.

Thanks
Fred


Posted by:

Vicki Smith
04 Jan 2011

I switched to Vonage this past year. I love it! They have so many great features. I have all the bells and whistles for much less than I was paying. The original reason I switched is that I moved and it was extremely important to me to keep my phone number. I went thru a long process with both AT&T and Comcast, both telling me they could port the number for me, then weeks later, said they couldn't. Vonage said they could and they did. Now anywhere I move within the US, I can take Vonage and my number with me. I've been very happy with the voice quality and customer service is great. If I ever temporarily loose power or internet, I have a cell phone so that aspect doesn't really bother me.


Posted by:

Robert Nelson
04 Jan 2011

There is both a cheaper and better quality sound solution only down side is you have to prepay. I originally obtained VIOPO via Hostgator.com. But by prepaying you get phone service for approx 1/4 of what Vonage charges.


Posted by:

Charles
04 Jan 2011

For Phone Service VOIP, MagicJack is a good option. About forty dollars for the device and about another hundred for five years' service for Unlimited domestic calling. Although I've noticed recently calls to some rural areas like the hills of West Virginia or rural eastern Illinois don't connect especially if it's not covered by a big phone company (that may be a "contract" issue for MagicJack with the phone providers in those areas, we used to be able to reach West Virginia hills before).


Posted by:

Bob Fischrup
04 Jan 2011

Ad far as Vonage goes, I would be very careful with them. I had the service for 8 years and seems that dropped called increased in the last year or two. I spent a lot of time with the their tech support trying various solutions. They were supposed follow up with with me and very even called back when they said they would. I installed Comcast VOIP service and have not had one dropped call in a month. Vonage would be as many as 203 times on the same call. I am dropping them at the end of January. The only bad thing is they will not port over your original phone number. I had mine for over 30 years and now have to get a new one. Some much for Vonage.


Posted by:

randy e
04 Jan 2011

I have had magic jack for e years. It works well as my internet does too. Vonage just seems over priced for the same thing.


Posted by:

Art
04 Jan 2011

I signed up with the 60.00 fee with a money back guarantee if canceled within a certain time and after canceling their service within that time and many hours wasted with phony promises never received my 60.00 back. What I esp. didn't like is that upon choosing an area code (they did not offer my local area code!) for my number, say where I make most my long distance calls, every call I made locally, which is most. had to be dialed with my own area code, besides everyone locally had to dial my 'long distance' number. To me very annoying. I now use my local service, 14.00/mo with a local 7 digit number and add Magic Jack only when occasionally calling long distance, as the Magic Jack is definitively limiting in many ways as your only service provider too.


Posted by:

Nancy
05 Jan 2011

I've had Vonage for my phone service in 3 homes over the last 6-7 years. I love it! No hassles - flat rate, good sound quality. 1 of the features I particularly like is simul ring (rings the house and my cell phone together. I only use the voice mail on my cell only no multiple voice mails to track. LOVE it!


Posted by:

Jim
05 Jan 2011

I have had Vonage since 2005 and I am very pleased. It is far more reliable than Verizon could provide out here in the country.

The only outages are when my ISP is down, and that is very rare. I had a dropped call problem once that was hard to find - the wall adapter power supply was dropping the voltage too low occasionally - other than that it is a Great service.


Posted by:

Sparky
06 Jan 2011

I've had Vonage for more than 5 years. Call clarity is better than it was with Sprint landline. Had total of 2 dropped calls in that time. It will be as reliable as your internet connection. If your broadband drops out frequently, so will your Vonage service. It also appears that those with DSL broadband have more VOIP problems than those with cable broadband. As to price, the problem is that some phone companies advertise their prices with taxes included. Vonage is one of the ones that does not, and after adding federal taxes, it almost doubles the monthly cost. Also, if you fax regularly, you need to research the topic of faxing over VOIP. If your fax allows you to decrease the transmission speed, that is suggested. The only problem I have noticed is that I sometimes get a fax confirmation when I find out later the fax did not go through. This is not a Vonage issue. It is a VOIP problem. Overall, I am very pleased with Vonage. I like being able to listen to messages over the internet or from my phone. I like that when replacing an unlisted number, they gave me the option of continuing to have it unlisted at no charge. Although I have heard that others have had customer service problems with them, I have never had a bad experience in that area either. As to the 911 issue, Vonage allows you to tie your number to your address with the local dispatch center. That hasn't been an issue for me. However, if you have young children or nervous adults, you might want to double-check with your local police department to see whether using VOIP could be a hindrance, but, again, this is a VOIP issue, not a Vonage issue.


Posted by:

Jim
06 Jan 2011

I had heard the horror stories about trying to cancel Vonage service and so avoided them. Time Warner Cable is our local broadband provider and their phone service works pretty well and is cheaper than Verizon, but still pretty steep (at least in my opinion) at $49.00. I've recently switched to CallCentric. I selected unlimited incoming minutes @ $5.95 and $0.0015 cents per minute outgoing. Phone bill is around $7.00 per month, a substancial savings. I did have to buy an ata adapter, but it paid for itself in a month. Quality is as good as Time Warners. We're quite happy witn it.


Posted by:

David
06 Jan 2011

Two good features of Vonage that I really like:
* Voicemails left on the vonage system can be sent to your email as WAV file attachments and you can get a TXT message as well.
* If your ISP is down, you can have calls to your number automatically forwarded to another number (eg mobile phone), so you still won't miss any calls.


Posted by:

TpCook
06 Jan 2011

I have had Vonage for many years. I have 3 lines. 2 lines are in the USA and I subscribe to the $17.95 service for each line with 500 minutes outgoing for each line. Then I have another Vonage adaptor (router) off shore so I have a "USA" line in a Caribbean country where I have a villa. At the villa I have a DSL connection. Not real fast but gets the job done. Saves me big bucks, as I can call the USA for almost no cost and no cost incoming, especially if I am calling another Vonage subscriber, then there are unlimited calls.. The third line is a $9.95 light line with 250 minutes.
So far it has worked great for me. Oh, and I also have a conventional land line for fax and when the internet is down.


Posted by:

Ellett
06 Jan 2011

I switched from flat-rate to measured service on my AT&T account and got my bill down to about $16.00 a month from the $33 or so I'd been paying. I recently switched from DSL to AT&T U-verse for Internet service, but U-verse phone costs $35, which to me is way overpriced, but not that far off of what Vonage costs.

There are much less expensive choices than AT&T pots, AT&T U-verse or Vonage.

I'm in process of switching to an independent VOIP provider. For a one-time cost, I purchased a Linksys SPA2102 phone adapter from Amazon for $60. For a monthly plan I'm either going with Callcentric, which is $5.95 a month plus $1.50 E911 service and a little under $.02 per minute for outgoing calls, or with VoIP.ms, which is $4.95 a month plus $1.50 e911 plus approximately $.01 per minute for outgoing calls. International rates are amazingly low with either company, $.02 per minute or less to most EU land lines.

If you don't want to set up your own phone adapter, check out Phonepower ($8.33 per month with prepay) or Nettalk ($29.95 per year). Both are flat-rate plans with inexpensive international rates.


Posted by:

Bruce
07 Jan 2011

This may be sacrilegious to some, but I turn *off* my computer, router and modem when I'm not actually computing, thereby rendering VOIP useless. Being in Tech Support, one of my cardinal security rules for users is to power down unattended computers.


Posted by:

James Raehl
09 Jan 2011

We have used Vonage for several years, over a 50 mBit Fibre-Optic connection. Quality is clear, and far better than Qwest landline, which was often noisy. Our occasional Fibre Optic drops, and frequent errand trips, are handled by free call forwarding to our cell phone.

I like the free International calling to foreign relatives around the world, as well as being able to connect the Vonage router to any decent Internet connection anywhere.

We may be moving soon, but will simply plug into the new Internet connection, probably via cable TV, and use the same phone number.


Posted by:

Gerry
13 Jan 2011

I've had Vonage for years, triggered by Verizon being unwilling to fix the noise on their copper.

A couple years back there was a customer service issue, that is gone and my service is as reliable as my ISP. My modem router and Vonage box (you don't need to use it as a router are connected to a UPS.

Among the feature set Comcast and Verizon don't offer are ring a 2nd phone at the same time (a cell phone in my case, great ISP or power outage protection), emailing voice mail (and voice to text conversion), fall over to another number if their for some reason there is a problem with the Vonage box talking to Vonage servers and a host more features unmatched.

In my area, Comcast and FiOS can't compete feature wise let alone free or very low cost international calling.

My son has had exactly the same results, sticking with Vonage.


Posted by:

Steve in VA
01 Feb 2012

I had Vonage for several years. No complaints about sound quality or features. Price though was only $2 a month cheaper than a bundled Cox.net service. I switched to Magic Jack and haven't looked back. FAR LESS EXPENSIVE. Only drawback is you MUST have the connection that can support it.


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