Friday, December 30, 2005

Vonage Reviewed

Ok we are starting the reviews with what is probably the most well known name in Voice Over IP providers, Vonage. I scoured for personal reviews of people who have used the service. My own personal review from the multitude of reviews I read is that it is a good service, most of the time. Naturally the bad news travels faster. Most of the reviews that I read that gave Vonage a bad review had to do with customer service. The service always seemed to work fine. However, getting hold of somebody to get a problem (billing or porting numbers, etc..) fixed seems to be the biggest complaint.

There is one particular customer who had a really bad experience with them. He has even committed his own site to telling people about it. That site will not be posted because of the language the site uses to express is dissatisfaction with the service. From what I have read so far my recommendation would be to go with one of the smaller services that will give you just as good a price, but will more likely go out of their way to give you good service since they are small.

p.s. It has also been brought to my attention that Vonage does charge a recovery fee of some kind for $1.50 and also charges a cancellation fee. This too is something a lot of the smaller providers are not doing.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

FCC and E911

J. Nicholas Hoover in a "Message to FCC: Stop Hurting VoIP" he writes this about the Voice Over IP / E911 problem:

When the FCC mandated enhanced 911 capabilities for VoIP providers, it opened a potentially anti-innovative can of worms commissioners can't solve with one punitive pen stroke. VoIP E911 is a complex problem with no simple answers, but if the FCC wants to keep the burgeoning industry growing quickly, it should stimulate discussion and aid compliance instead of fixing itself into a scolding pattern.

Toward the end he adds:

This isn't to say that safety isn't an issue and exploding subscriber numbers could make the case for a forced FCC hand. I've been told that since I work from home near Washington and have a VoIP phone with a Long Island exchange, it's possible that emergency personnel could show up to InformationWeek headquarters in New York if I ever called 911 on my work phone. Misleading advertising and lack of services led to at least one lawsuit against Vonage earlier this year. And even if companies solve location issues, VoIP service, unlike traditional phones, shuts off in power and Internet outages, potentially hindering disaster relief. Yet VoIP still isn't the main communication method for most people. The biggest thing here is to make customers aware of VoIP's E911 troubles.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Disadvantages of Voice over IP

There are some possible disadvantages to Voice over IP service.

1. VoIP providers may or may not offer directory assistance/white page listings.

Most do by now.

2. VoIP services don't work during power outages and the service provider may not offer back up power.

Simply buying a battery back-up at around $50 will prevent this.

3. Not all VoIP services connect directly to emergency services through 9-1-1.

This is true and there is a lot being done about it. This will be the topic of the next post.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What are the advantages of Voice over IP?

The obvious answer is price. You can often get VoIP service and your broadband service for less than your regular phone bill alone. Also, you get many of the features that the phone services nickel and dime you for, for free.! This is in most cases, some service still try to make an extra buck on some features so be sure to ask. Voice over IP service can also give you features just not available with standard phone service. Some examples are voice mail to email and the ability to take your phone number with you.

Take your phone number with you? That's right. Simply take your phone adapter with you and plug it into a highspeed connection in your hotel, friend, or family's house and you phone number is hooked up there with you.

Are there any disadvantages? They are few and far between and will look at those in the next post.

Monday, December 26, 2005

What is Voice Over IP?

Voice Over IP (VoIP) allows you to make telephone calls using a computer network, over a data network like the Internet. VoIP converts the voice signal from your telephone into a digital signal that travels over the internet then converts it back at the other end so you can speak to anyone with a regular phone number. When placing a VoIP call using a phone with an adapter, you'll hear a dial tone and dial just as you always have. VoIP may also allow you to make a call directly from a computer using a conventional telephone or a microphone.