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surfsup
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject: What's the truth about using pre-paid calling cards? Reply with quote Back to top

Along with a Comcast internet service, I have a Vonage account set up at a vacation property that I rent out in Florida. I chose the $14.99 / 500 minutes per month deal, which is more than enough for my needs. Accordingly, I make it clear to everybody who stays there that calls made to numbers within the U.S. are inclusive, but that international calls should be made only by using a pre-paid calling card, such as can be bought at any local supermarket. So far, that arrangement has worked well, with lots of calls being made to the UK, in particular, using the aforementioned calling cards. Nevertheless, when I discovered only recently that I could simply log in to my Vonage account and block international calls anyway, I was tempted to do so.

Before doing this, however, I emailed Vonage customer service just to check that if I went ahead and asked for them to be blocked, it would still be possible to make international calls using the calling cards .

The answer I received confused me because it claimed that Vonage does not even support the use of calling cards, and added: "hence you will not be able to use calling cards to make International calls."

Now, as I've already indicated, Vonage clearly does (or did) support calling cards, because plenty of people have made international calls with them via my Vonage system over the past 2 years. That said, one of my guests did complain earlier this year that the particular card they'd bought did not work. Apparently, dialling the 'access number' on the card elicited an error message - presumably from Vonage - stating that it was not possible to connect using that card.

Is it the case, therefore, that Vonage does allow calling cards. but only certain types? And if so, does anyone here happen to know which ones (e.g. Sprint) I should advise people to go for? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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trekologer
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

A calling card will work. You're just making an outgoing call to the calling card's dial-in number. There might have been some confusion because you can't charge calls to your Vonage account using a calling card (or collect calls).
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surfsup
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Yes, it was always my understanding, too, that international calls made via a calling card are actually local (i.e. national) calls that are then simply relayed internationally by the card provider. It's just curious that Vonage's customer service would try to claim the Vonage system doesn't even 'support' calling cards (when, clearly, it does) and it's even more curious that at least one such card has already been found not to work on my Vonage phone. Could that be just a coincidence?

I can understand why Vonage would like to block the use of calling cards. Obviously, they don't make any money when people like me - who are signed up to the $14.99 deal - make non-inclusive international calls using them. But would they really go so far as to lie about whether the cards are 'supported' (i.e. useable) on the Vonage system?
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Vonage does not block the use of calling cards. It is just like dialing any other number. It sounds like the problem one of your guests had when entering an account number was with DTMF relay. The far end did not receive or understand all digits passed. If this does not affect other and was only to this one specific calling card number, it was most likely due to the use of compression on either Vonage's outbound carrier, the underline carrier, or the in country carrier.

Vonage uses RFC2833 to pass DTMF through RTP stream. This requires G711 which is uncompressed and the use of a payload type of 101 (telephone-event). However, once it leaves Vonage's network and is now passed through TDM, if one of the carriers handling the call along the line uses an IP transport method, they may be compressing the data to save on bandwidth. When compression is applied to the IP data, DTMF and faxing become very unreliable.

The only way for Vonage to assist would be for them to try other carrier routes from their network out. Please note they have no control over what happen to the call once it leaves their network. So this means this is not proactive to make sure it never happens again. It is only a reactive measure to help remedy the issue currently occurring. Also to create special route for the customer requires going to 3 level support or higher(Advanced Operations). Tech support cannot assist with this.
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VonTechMgr
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

One other thing I left out in previous post was that if the number itself was not able to be dialed, make sure that the number does not have a 976 or 977 NPA or NXX. Vonage does not allow anything 1-976-xxx / 1-977-xxx or even 1-xxx-976 / 1-xxx-977. If the number is actually valid, it will be unblocked by Vonage after investigating. These types of numbers were blocked for the reason they are mostly used by third party billing.
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surfsup
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks Guys, for all the advice. I can't pretend to understand all the details of your reply VonTechMgr, but I'll certainly look out for those 976 or 977 number on the calling cards.

I may never find out why that one particular calling card failed to work with my Vonage phone, but thanks anyway for confirming that calling cards should work with Vonage - despite what I was told by customer service!

Cheers.
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