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Vonage VoIP Forum Digest - March 1, 2006


Vonage VoIP Forum Digest

March 1, 2006

By Daniel Connor

Welcome to today's edition of the Vonage Voip Forum Digest. 

In the news, we'll find out why Vonage users may eventually have to pay into the Universal Service und. Don't worry, we will explain what this Universal Service Fund is and does. We'll also spotlight a website that tells you how to get straight to Vonage support without hitting a whole bunch of call buttons. Speaking of hitting call buttons, we will look at a Vonage Voip Forum thread in which a Vonage Forum Member says call buttons don't work all that well for him on his Vonage line. We'll also read a thread in which a Vonage user is looking for a different phone to use with his Vonage service. And finally, I will mention a fairly new thread with lots of posts, and controversy. 



In The News

Senate May Ask Vonage Users To Pay Into Universal Service Fund

Right now, long-distance, wireless, pay-phone and wireline telephone services are required to contribute a fixed percentage of their revenues to the Universal Service Fund, a U.S. government administered fund which helps subsidize the expansion of broadband Internet service into mainly rural areas, where it would be expensive for companies to do this on their own. This way, companies like Vonage can gain new customers, because these new customers have the broadband connections necessary for Vonage to run.

These service providers raise this money by tacking an additional fee onto their customers' bills.

But supporters of the fund, which gives out on average more than $5 billion each year, say it has dwindled because traditional services, such as long-distance, are taking in less money, while Voip companies are not required to.

In a U.S. Senate hearing yesterday, several senators said they want to change that by making USF contributions "technology neutral." Ted Stevens of Alaska- a state with many rural residents, said he thinks all communication services should pay into this fund.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has indicated he is leaning toward a "numbers-based" approach, in which anyone with a phone number would pay into the fund.  The VON Coalition, which Vonage doesn't happen to be a member of but often agrees with Vonage on Voip public policy issues, also supports that approach.

Like I've said, discussions like that which was held in the Senate yesterday are a key reason why Vonage has several government affairs representatives in Washington.

Site Tells How To Get Thru "To A Human" At Vonage

A website called GetHuman.com has shortcuts for getting to speak to a person at hundreds of companies. Here's what they advise about how to get thru to a human at Vonage: 

First, dial 866-243-4357. "One second into the call, press 0. Always press 0 at the END of "I'm sorry, that's not a valid option". Press 0 during any other IVR. 

For some customer support issues, you can even dial Vonage Customer Care direct at 888-250-1799.

Of course Vonage Forum Members like the option of being able to have their Vonage questions answered by other Members. Speaking of, let's catch up with what people are talking about on the Vonage Forum today.

On The Vonage Voip Forum

One new Vonage Voip Forum thread somewhat relates to the "Press 1" technology that lots of consumers deal with when they use their Vonage- or other- connection to call customer service at a company they deal with. That technology is called Interactive Voice Response, or IVR for short.

The thread is called Any known issues using automated touch-tone systems (IVRs). Despite being started by a Forum Member by the name of HDClown, this thread explores a serious issue.

"Are there any known issues with using an automated system that listens for touch tones to route you? My wife tried to use one this morning and the system was getting 2 of every digit she pressed," HD Clown writes, adding that he's using a Linksys RPT300.

Fellow Vonage Forum Member VonageTPA posts an answer.

"Some of the RTP300 devices don't properly process DTMF (Dual Tone Multi-Frequency) tones which interferes with the relay portion," he writes. "Basically, they don't mute the local touch tones, so the IVR system ends up hearing multiple presses at times and sometimes it doesn't work." 

VonageTPA then suggests that HDClown call Vonage tech support and describe the issue. 

On a New Vonage Voip Forum thread called "Business" Phone Suggestions, new Vonage Forum Member Agg2001 sounds, well, aggravated that his current phone equipment does not seem to be working well with his Vonage.

"I've recently switched our office to two Vonage Unlimited Business numbers, and one 'basic' line which we use as our fax line. The fax line is perfect, and working like the old SBC line did," he writes. "However, I have since ran into quite a few compatibility issues with our current phones."

Agg2001 then goes on to describe the problem in detail"

"We are using the AT&T 955's, and they have worked beautifully for what we need them for. We NEED the call privacy, Line-in-Use indicator, caller id panel, phone directory (currently 200 number, but I don't need that many really), and speakerphone; everything else is wasted on us," he writes. This phone isn't compatible with the new Vonage setup (which is setup in the POTS style... no switch or anything). 

"I need a new set of phones which offer the same features AND that will be compatible down the road when we move office and setup a "real" phone network, with voicemail, on-hold-music, etc.," Agg2001 adds.

VonageTPA files a very thorough and helpful answer.

"On some of these wanna-be PBX phones, putting DSL filters on the outputs of the Vonage adapter seems to make things work," he writes. "It's worth a shot, and DSL filters are far less expensive than new phones."

But since some of Agg2001's question concerns the future, VonageTPA tackles this issue as well with some recommendations.

"As far as phones for the future... when you get a PBX, line privacy won't be an issue. If you're looking for low-budget, look at Asterisk At Home," he writes. It's a computer-based PBX, which does require a little bit of technical knowledge, but it pretty much is ready to go out of the box...and the price (free) is a good start. 

"You can then use most IP phones with the system, and can add analog adapters so you can use any analog phones you may have with the system as well," VonageTPA adds. "Out of the box, it comes with voice mail & music on hold already there."

I tend to take notice when a thread gets a lot of posts and page views. That means the thread subject has hit home for a lot of you Vonage Forum Members.

A good example of this is the Comcast vs. Vonage thread. Although the thread has been going on just a couple of weeks, there are already more than 100 posts and this thread has been read more than 5,500 times. With that amount of posts, it is difficult to summarize the thread except to say that it contains the experiences and thoughts of many Vonage users who have Comcast as their broadband Internet service provider. And what's interesting, there's a variety of opinions and experiences that are being expressed on thread.

I definitely recommend that you check it out.

How To Edit Or Delete Your Posts

Whether online or off, most of us have said things we later regretted, or realized we could have said or explained better. I know I have said my share.

I guess it is that trait in so many of us that makes at least some Vonage Forum Members curious about how to edit posts you have made, or even how to delete them should it become necessary to do so.

Here's an explanation of your options, as I explain on the Vonage Forum FAQ

Unless you are the board admin or forum moderator you can only edit or delete your own posts. You can edit a post (sometimes for only a limited time after it was made) by clicking the edit button for the relevant post. If someone has already replied to the post you will find a small piece of text output below the post when you return to the topic, this lists the number of times you edited it. This will only appear if no one has replied, it also will not appear if moderators or administrators edit the post (they should leave a message saying what they altered and why). Please note that normal users cannot delete a post once someone has replied.

As we close out today's Digest, I'd like to remind you once again about some more options you have to receive the Vonage Voip Forum Digest every day. If you go to this page: http://www.vonage-forum.com/syndication.html, you will see a list of RSS Newsreaders from which with one or two clicks, you'll be able to get your Digest delivered directly to your Newsreader each morning. The Newsreaders we've linked to on that page include such reliable and trusted services as Bloglines, Feedster, My Yahoo!, Newsgator and Feedburner. I am open to add others, just contact me with the info of the Newsreader.

That's what's hot about Vonage today. We'll be back on Wednesday morning with our next edition of the Vonage VoIP Forum Digest, including our popular Vonage Voip Forum Member of the Week feature! And soon, we'll be opening up that Member of the Week selection to your votes!!




 
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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.

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