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tplink Posted:
Im trying to add
my HT802 vonage
adapter to my home
network. I
currently have
...

In The Forum:
Hard Wiring - Installation
Topic:
Vonage behind switch
On Dec 05, 2016 at 06:35:11

DWSupport Posted:
After recent
Vonage update that
took place on the
4th and 5th of
Nov. E-mails with
...

In The Forum:
Vonage
Topic:
Voicemail Not Forwarding to Outlook Accounts
On Nov 10, 2016 at 12:23:26

peterlee Posted:
Had a call from a
Hospital in Ajax,
Ontario to my home
in
Scarborough, Onta
rio
...

In The Forum:
Vonage Canada
Topic:
Hospital Incoming call unable to connect
On Nov 08, 2016 at 11:59:50

TELLDOUG Posted:
I am looking for a
product that will
make my phone ring
louder so I can
hear using
...

In The Forum:
Vonage
Topic:
Looking for a ringer ameliorate
On Oct 26, 2016 at 09:21:30

HildBeft Posted:
You can recollect
password by
connecting the
router to your pc
and open the
browser
...

In The Forum:
Hard Wiring - Installation
Topic:
How to arrive at wifi password?
On Oct 20, 2016 at 05:05:49

HildBeft Posted:
Great tips..
Thanks for sharing
...

In The Forum:
Hard Wiring - Installation
Topic:
How to have Vonage and another land line?
On Oct 20, 2016 at 04:55:03

massrman Posted:
The devices are
available at
different price
margins , please
share your
estimated
...

In The Forum:
Vonage
Topic:
IP PBX for small business
On Sep 30, 2016 at 00:48:03

massrman Posted:
Hi these are most
commonly used SIP
PBX interops and
their
configuration
guides,
...

In The Forum:
Vonage
Topic:
IP PBX for small business
On Sep 30, 2016 at 00:37:45

Sammy00 Posted:
Has anyone setup a
W52p phone for
vonage? I have
a W52p with two
wireless handsets,
...

In The Forum:
Hard Wiring - Installation
Topic:
W52p Setup
On Aug 30, 2016 at 10:38:01

James44 Posted:
Hi, I am
looking for a good
Sip Trunking
provider in
Canada. they
should offer
...

In The Forum:
Vonage
Topic:
A good sip trunking provider
On Jul 17, 2016 at 23:42:46


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Review Of Vonage's Voip Broadband Phone Service

March 14, 2003

By Bill Royle

These days a lot of people use their cell phones for long distance calling, choosing to utilize their free long distance from their cell provider versus paying by the minute for calls made using a land-based phone provider such as AT&T, or Sprint. While the sound quality isn't always as good with a cell phone and calls occasionally do get dropped, the rates phone companies charge for land-based lines are often unreasonable for medium to high-usage users of long distance services.

Upon moving to the Bay area, I found myself in this situation. With phone bills ranging from $80-150 dollars, it was clear that the phone companies were draining my wallet like there was no tomorrow. I ended up picking up a cell phone finally, and haven't looked back. For quite a while, I kept the analog telephone "just in case," and then finally stuck a pad of paper next to the phone and made a mark each time I used it. After noting in the space of a month that I'd only used the land-based phone twice, I relegated the handset to a box in the garage and shut off the service. Since that time I've enjoyed a steady phone bill of approximately $55 a month.

Last month I was contacted by Vonage, a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service provider, and was asked if I would like to review their product. I'd seen some of the enterprise-level Voip products coming out of Cisco and had been interested in those, so I agreed to take a look. The package reviewed was the 39.99/month unlimited local and long-distance package, their most popular option.

I was definitely skeptical, as I've tried other services for communication over the internet, such as Net2Phone and NetMeeting. Both of those products are software-based solutions, and you must have a microphone and speakers at a minimum, in the case of Netmeeting you can also have a webcam. The drawbacks to these? Well, Net2phone's voice quality was absolutely sub-par even on broadband connections - there were a lot of echoes, voice cutouts, etc. Internet traffic notwithstanding, if I'm going to switch to a Voip solution, that hurdle should be cleared before I even make the call.
NetMeeting provided more features, however you still had to either put your name out on a directory and leave it on all the time if you wanted calls, or you had to call the person on the phone, give your IP address or vice-versa, then make the call. That kind of defeats the purpose if you're just trying to make a phone call.

As a result, Vonage had a fair amount of ground to cover before I would consider it a suitable replacement to a regular analog line. What I found was a product that addressed the issues I'd experienced.

How does it work?

The first thing to keep in mind is that Vonage isn't regulated the same as your standard telephone companies, such as AT&T or SBC. There's a technical reason for this which makes all the difference, and actually saves you money in the process.
Regular telephone companies such as SBC are based on analog communication. When you make a call to a friend using their service, the entirety of the call is sent in one stream through switches, which arrive at your friend's house all together. Vonage's service is different. It uses the TCP/IP protocol to get the data to you, breaking up your call into small packets (or packages), then it re-assembles them at the final destination. This is a typical data transmission, thus it does not qualify under FCC regulations as a voice call. Therefore, you're not charged the telecommunications taxes that are assessed to telephone companies, and ultimately the consumer.

Additionally, the fact that you're using existing internet infrastructure but not one specific data line in particular, you're not having to pay the company which actually owns the infrastructure your signal is going to - another cost-saving route.

So let's get started with what came in the box.



Vonage's Voice-over-IP phone service beats telephone company offerings


How does it work?

The first thing to keep in mind is that Vonage isn't regulated the same as your standard telephone companies, such as AT&T or SBC. There's a technical reason for this which makes all the difference, and actually saves you money in the process.
Regular telephone companies such as SBC are based on analog communication. When you make a call to a friend using their service, the entirety of the call is sent in one stream through switches, which arrive at your friend's house all together. Vonage's service is different. It uses the TCP/IP protocol to get the data to you, breaking up your call into small packets (or packages), then it re-assembles them at the final destination. This is a typical data transmission, thus it does not qualify under FCC regulations as a voice call. Therefore, you're not charged the telecommunications taxes that are assessed to telephone companies, and ultimately the consumer.

Additionally, the fact that you're using existing internet infrastructure but not one specific data line in particular, you're not having to pay the company which actually owns the infrastructure your signal is going to - another cost-saving route.

So let's get started with what came in the box.
In the review unit we received, we received the box seen at the top of the image. It contains the Cisco ATA186 router, which is the guts of the service. As well, there is the power adapter, and two network cables to utilize when hooking it up. Also included were several easy-to-use manuals which helps you in setting up the device. We received a page which contained the information required to start using the service - specifically our account number, telephone number, and username/password for accessing the website which you can retrieve your account details through.

The Cisco ATA186 router

This unit is the core of the service. A look from the front:

Everything you need to connect comes in the box, and is connected in the back of the Cisco router:

you've got the network port, and the place to plug in the power adapter. Setting the device up took us approximately 3 minutes - anyone can do this, trust us. On the top of the device in the image above, you'll see a white sticker affixed to it. This is about as complicated as it gets:

"Attention: To activate service, pick up the telephone handset. Press this button and dial 80#. A voice prompt will announce the telephone's IP address."

Not too difficult. A voice came on the line, read off the internal IP's address, and it was off to the races from there! As a side note, the unit had absolutely no trouble with NAT (network address translation.) It was able to attain an IP and pass through communications via a Linksys BEFSR41 router without a single issue.

What about the actual service?

So let's do a rundown of all the features:
  • Unlimited local and long distance calls
  • Call Waiting
  • Caller ID
  • Voice mail
  • Call forwarding
  • Caller ID blocking
  • Repeat dialing
  • The ability to block international calling
  • Call transferring
  • *69 service
  • Bandwidth saving level
  • A large selection of area codes which you are free to choose from

    So you get all of this for $40 dollars a month. Not a bad deal... a lot of these features are self-evident, and are features that you very well may have at home already. The difference is that your antiquated telco is probably charging you for each one, or throwing them all together in a bundle that's not worth what they're asking. However, if you order them separately you're probably paying more than if you did pay for them in that bundled package. Throw in unlimited local and long-distance calls, and it's all pretty clear: your phone company is charging you high rates to prop up a network infrastructure that's outdated and inferior technically. Is it your responsibility to reward a company for failing to invest in their own networks? No - and that's why you'll be very hard-pressed to find a telephone company out there that will offer you the package that Vonage does.

    Voice quality

    One expectation I had was that the sound would be tinny, or that there would be a fair amount of echoes, very common in other Voip solutions. If you've ever used Net2Phone, NetMeeting, or other semi-solutions, you know what I'm talking about: that feedback of your own voice, nipping at your ear like a nasty mosquito. If there's one thing that hinders the Voice-over-IP market, it's voice quality. Vonage simply doesn't have that. In timing the delays between the analog phone I used with the Vonage service and a cell phone, I found the delays to be very reasonable, usually about half a second.

    The vocal clarity of the connection was also very acceptable between the Vonage unit and a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) phone, certainly better than the quality of a cell phone call. We had no problem speaking with other people, and there was no pause between sentences to give the call recipient a chance to talk back - something I always found aggravating when using other Voip services.

    Here's one kicker we mentioned earlier, for those of you out there that feel like you're getting taxed coming and going for services. You won't pay taxes for this service, unlike the regional and local taxes you're currently paying for your land line. Why? Because your voice is translated to a data stream via the Cisco router, as described earlier in this review.

    On to the web interface...


    Primarily the use of Vonage's web-based interface for call handling will be for your voicemails, presumably. Initially we had a bit of trouble with this, as leaving a voicemail message was successful, but when we went to check voicemails via the interface, none appeared. However, a quick check on the same page for assistance suggested we check our cookie settings, and sure enough, I'd changed them from the defaults and thus caused the problem. Once we made that adjustment, all was ok. This was a very minor hitch, and makes sense from a web services point of view. Upon making these changes, the following screen appeared:

    Checking messages was simple. Click on a phone number, and a small popup window appears:

    The message automatically starts, and is played out in .wav format. We found the message quality to be good, and the time taken to retrieve the call was quick. In terms of voicemail notification, there are three ways which you can be notified of new messages: 1) a 'stuttered' dial tone when you pick up the phone indicates a new message, 2) if your phone has a voicemail notification indicator light, it will be come on to indicate a voicemail is waiting, or 3) you can activate email notification via the web-based interface. These options should fit just about anyone's needs.

    Account Management

    Keeping track of calls is easy - use the Activity section of the Vonage web interface, and it'll show you where the call originated from, which number they were calling into, time and duration of call, etc. This section was very easy to use - just the facts and pertinent info of the call. The transaction ID portion would presumably be used if there were any questions you needed to make with Vonage regarding a problem with a call, we're betting.

    There's also a handy summary screen Vonage refers to as your 'Dashboard.' This is probably the most useful part of the service when it comes to auditing your calls. It's pretty similar in a lot of ways to the activity screen, but contains a bit more info, including a quick voicemail entry area, notices from Vonage, and an area for call forwarding.
    Bandwidth consumption

    Bandwidth consumption is an issue anyone using this service should consider. This service will not make the cut if you're using a 56k modem. Broadband users who have a lot of bandwidth needs shouldn't have issues, but if there are any, Vonage has assisted in helping on that too. They've got a handy tool within their web interface that can adjust the sound quality of your call to reduce your bandwidth usage. We didn't need it after all, even while downloading two movie trailers at the same time while using it. Anyhow, adjust the sliding bar to the level you want to use, and they'll take care of the rest instantly:

    Bells and Whistles

    This is a portion of the service a lot of people will find useful: the 'Features' section. It contains the bandwidth tool, and numerous other options which you can configure, such as:
  • Call forwarding
  • Turning voicemail on/off
  • International call blocking
  • Call waiting

    There's also an option in here which should help if you've got a flaky network connection: 'Network Availability Number.' If your network connection drops for some reason, you can enable this option and the person trying to call you back will be forwarded to another phone number of your choice, for example a cell phone. Slick, there's nothing like contingency planning.

    There's also one other feature that'd be very useful for businesspeople on the go, such as salespeople - 'Virtual Phone Numbers.' For an additional $4.99 a month, you can order additional phone numbers in different area codes. Let's say you worked in two area codes (god forbid,) such as San Jose and Washington, DC. With this option, people in either area code could reach you by dialing that local number, incurring no long distance calls. This is one of the coolest features the service offers, and one anyone on the road a lot would find useful.


    Suggestions & Notes:

    I don't have a lot of suggestions - getting started was easy. One thing this service theoretically lacks is the ability to make a 911 call, and that's not a failing on their part, it's a technology which doesn't mix with Voip properly. However, you can program your local fire, police and EMS numbers into your phone, and that'll remove that obstacle! Don't discount this service based on the supposed lack of a way to reach emergency services - it's simply not the case!

    Use a cordless phone with this. As the Cisco unit has to be near your internet connection, that base has to stick around your LAN. I'd like to see a 3 or 4 port phone down the road, so you could service a full house a bit more easily.

    Summary

    The Vonage service is a great replacement, frankly the only smart choice if you've got broadband and want a home phone. With the savings you get from long distance alone, it's worth it. Throw in the bells and whistles plus the fact that the voice quality is great, and you've got a winning combination of features for a pretty low price. I found the interface easy-to-use, the company was easy to reach and I didn't have any trouble getting through our firewall.

    This service would be most effectively used if you're on the road a lot, if you've got a college student squeezing every last penny out of your wallet calling home, or if you're away from your family or friends for an extended period of time. One other group can benefit from this: H1-B'ers and expatriates living in the US, away from their native countries. This is a great savings for that demographic - as of this printing, the following rates applied to international calls:

    It comes down to this: if you're going to have phone service, this is the best and most advanced way to make your calls. You're not dealing with AT&T anymore, you're dealing with a phone solution that's progressed by leaps and bounds past the 1970's-era service that is squeezing you for as much as possible. This is a product worth it's weight in gold, from a company that's got the right idea!

    Rating:
  • Installation: 9.5/10
  • Usage: 9.5/10
  • Convenience: 8.5/10
  • Price: 10/10
  • Overall: 9.5/10

    Our thanks to Vonage and their staff for making this review one of our more enjoyable ones!



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