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Salt Lake City: impressions after several months
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Review: My First Day With Vonage, Excellent!
Review: My First Day With Vonage, Excellent!



Great Price, No Complaints
Great Price, No Complaints



You need some common sense.
You need some common sense.



Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...
Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...




Vonage Reviews

Dialing Up Phone Calls On Internet


Vonage In Print News



December 5, 2005

By Lore Croghan

Growing numbers of people are turning to the Internet - for phone service.

Voice over Internet Protocol has drawn 3.6 million subscribers nationwide, a staggering fourfold increase in the past year, according to TeleGeography Research.

To be sure, Voip is dwarfed by the 93 million residential lines that traditional phone companies have. But it's going to keep growing, said Stephan Beckert, TeleGeography's director of research - because it's cheaper than regular phone service, especially if you make a lot of calls to other countries.

He predicts the number of Internet phone subscribers will rise to 18.9 million by 2010.

Currently, a disproportionately high number of users are in metro New York, Beckert said.

That's because two of the country's top three providers are cable companies with a presence here - Time Warner Cable, which has 854,000 total Voip subscribers, and Cablevision, which has 601,000.

The company with the biggest number of U.S. subscribers is Edison, N.J.-based Vonage, which has one million customers - and a distinctive ad campaign featuring the tag line "People do stupid things, like pay too much for phone service."

VoIP - which is also called digital phone service or broadband phone service - has been around for a decade. But it didn't start getting popular until recently.

There were just a handful of companies offering it, and sometimes the sound quality of the calls was bad, said Eric Laughlin, CEO of VoipReview.org, an independent Web site where consumers comparison-shop for Internet phone service.

But now, it's more common for people to have high-speed Internet connections at home - which are needed for this type of phone service. Call quality has improved, and lots of big companies are marketing the service.

The very phone companies that Voip is challenging are getting into the act - such as Verizon, which introduced a service called VoiceWing in July 2004.

VoiceWing has enabled Verizon to win back some former customers, as well as keep some customers who decided to switch from regular phones to Internet phones.

Internet phone service works a couple of different ways. If you buy it from Verizon or many other providers, you use a regular phone with a tiny adapter, and a high-speed Internet connection you get from a phone or cable company.

Vonage, for one, delivers phone service this way so it will seem familiar to customers.

With other companies - such as Skype, which eBay recently bought - your computer becomes your telephone. You plug a headset into it to talk, and click the numbers on your keyboard to dial the calls. (Skype also has a new version that works with a telephone.)

Either way, the point is to lower your phone bills - which you're going to do, as long as you have a high-speed Internet connection at home.

You can get the high-speed hook-up from Verizon for as little as $14.95 a month. The average bill for people with conventional phones is $72 a month for combined local and long-distance service, said Vonage spokesman Jamie Serino. A comparable plan from Vonage - which includes calls throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico - costs $24.99 a month, he said.

Regular international phone service is 10 to 15 cents a minute. On Internet phone companies, it costs half as much.

On Verizon VoiceWing, for instance, calls are 3 cents per minute to the United Kingdom or Italy, 4 cents a minute to Israel, and 6 cents to 11 cents to Mexico, depending on which city you call.

Net2Phone offers one plan with unlimited calls to China, Hong Kong, the U.S. and Canada for $34.99 a month, and another with 150 minutes of calls to India for $29.99 a month.

To find internet phone service that should save you money and fit your needs, you need to comparison-shop.
Shopping sites include www.VoipReview.org, and www.myvoipprovider.com - which focuses on international phone service.

Before you buy:

· Make sure you pick the right option based on your needs, said Eric Laughlin of VoipReview.org. Don't pick a plan that will cost extra for long distance and international service you might not use.

· Make sure the company you pick has enhanced 911 emergency calling where you live. The Federal Communications Commission set a deadline for the companies to provide it, and the deadline has passed - but some haven't fully complied.

· Make sure the company you pick is able to transfer your existing phone number, Laughlin said. Some can't.

· Be prepared to put up with service glitches, though things have improved since the early days of Internet phones.

Flushing resident Pam Williams said she has a problem at least once a week with her Time Warner Cable phone service.

People will call her cell phone and say, "Where are you? I've been calling you" - when she's been sitting in front of her Internet phone, and it hasn't rung. Or she'll be in the middle of a conversation on her Internet phone, and it will disconnect.

"It's not perfect," she warned.




 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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