Thursday, August 4, 2005


I know most folks check this site for news and pictures of the family, and especially Sydney. Amy and I have committed to sitting down this weekend and putting together some new photos and updates on that front, but until then, I just have some geek speak...

Years ago, before seeing a movie with my wife's family, I heard a couple of her siblings and her father discussing VOIP. Not being fully up to speed on the whole shabang, I kept my mouth shut. After the movie, as several of us were making use of the facilities prior to hitting the road, I turned to my father-in-law who was standing next to me and asked "So, is this what they call Voice Over I P?"

For those that don't know, VOIP or Voice over IP (IP referring to the Internet Protocol, not the bodily function) is, from a consumer's perspective, a way to make phone calls over the internet. Numerous companies like Vonage have started making use of this ability by offering phone service that runs over your broadband internet connection with no need for a traditional copper phone line.

Why do I mention this? Because Amy and I have switched to Vonage, and I love it!

We were able to port (that's the phone company's term) our number to Vonage, so there has been no need to contact everyone and give them a new number. In addition to a lower monthly cost ($15 for up to 500 minutes per month, or $25 for unlimited calling) we get free calling nationwide (NO Long Distance, even to Canada!), free voicemail that is accessible via phone or any web browser (they'll even email you the messages if you want!), and a bevy of other cool features. For example, if we are going to be away from home for some period of time, I could set up a number to which all calls will be forwarded. What's that you say? That's not new? No, but this is: I could instead take our Vonage adapter (made by Linksys) with me and plug it in to a broadband connection and a telephone at my destination. The adapter/router then reaches out and touches Vonage's system and my phone number will ring right there when people call, no forwarding necessary! Way cool...

There are a bunch of other cool things you can do, like having your home phone and another number (like your mobile phone) ring simultaneously, or having calls forwarded to another number after a certain number of seconds, and then back to your voicemail if it is still not answered. In addition to not paying anything for calling anywhere in the US or Canada, they also have great international rates. Calling China, for example, is either 6 or 10 cents per minute, depending upon where in the country you are calling! Germany (where we have family) is either 3 or 4 cents per minute, depending on the area! Have I used up my quota of exclamation points in this post?

We have had the service running for several weeks now, though our home number was not ported over until about a week ago due to the paperwork involved. This was all on Vonage's side, and I just had to fill out one online form to start the process. Vonage provided us a temporary number to use until our old phone company released the number, and seamlessly switched over once the process was complete. So far, I have not noticed any problems with call quality or reliability.

If anyone is interested in checking it out, let me know. Vonage has a program where referrals will get the new customer a free month and the referrer two free months. I'm not posting this to get free phone service, but if I happen to sway anyone to give it a try, I can send you a link to use.


Kurt Nordstrom said...

Amanda and I switched to Vonage a while back, and we're likin' it. It makes sense to get unlimited long distance, what with the majority of our relatives out of state.

The online control panel and stats are very nice too.

Dave H. said...

Rollin, did Verizon allow you to switch to Vonaga, and still allow you to your Fios functions?

Rollin said...

Dave, my former phone carrier was actually Comcast. I had both their internet service and digital phone service. I ordered Fios from Verizon independent of phone service. Then I switched my number from Comcast to Vonage. Verizon should not mind. In fact, they have their own VOIP offering called Voice Wing in addition to their "traditional" phone service (though it would now happen over the fiber optic line as they have are abandoning the copper where fiber has been installed).

So, the bottom line is that Verizon did not have a problem with me ordering Fios without phone service.