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I clicked on a Yahoo ad the other day. It’s something I’ve never done intentionally but the internet was running slow and the ad caught my eye as I was waiting for a page to come up. So I clicked on it. The ad was for Vonage Digital Voice which is another one of those telephone over the internet products. We all know that attempts at making phone calls over the net in the past have failed. The one thing that sticks out in my mind about making phone calls on the internet is the sound quality sucked. They had the ad-based free internet phones like out for awhile but they finally turned those all into pay services. But the only thing they were ever good for was making prank calls to people because there was no way to hold a decent conversation with all the echoing and static.

I sat and read about Vonage on their web site for about 30 minutes. It seemed like a great deal, $40 per month for unlimited long distance calling. And you’re not using your computer to make the phone calls, instead they send you a box that converts all of your home telephones into internet phones. They claim that the sound quality is just as good as a regular phone line. I don’t believe them so I start searching Google for information about Vonage. Every page I find is praising their product and their service. So I’m a little more convinced and I figure what the hell, there’s no contract so I’ll give it a try. It ends up being $80 to sign up, then $40 per month (plus taxes) after that. They ship the unit with Airborn Express just an hour after I place my order and it arrives within 4 business days.

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Your New Phone Company This is the box, plug it into your internet router and you’re making free calls.

The product is truly great. Not only is the sound quality just as good as my old Ameritech service, it’s actually better. When I pick up any phone in the house, I instantly get a dial tone. And as soon as I dial the number the phone is ringing. There are no pauses while it routes the call or tries to establish a connection. It’s just as fast as your regular home service is. This thing rules. Not only am I going to get better quality service than I did with Ameritech, I’m going to end up saving around $200 once I cancel my old service. You know how your local phone company likes to charge you for caller ID? It’s comes free with Vonage. Are you paying for your call waiting and call forwarding services? Free with Vonage. Are you stupid enough to pay for phone company voicemail when you can just use an answering machine for free? Throw away your answering machine, Vonage gives you free voicemail. And even call forwarding is free with Vonage.

I’ve said it before, the regular phone companies are really screwed. As if they don’t have enough problems with everyone ditching their home lines for wireless phones, now they have to deal with the internet stealing all of their customers. They’ve raised rates and screwed their customers over for decades. $7.00 for caller ID? $1.00 for an unlisted number? Remember when they used to charge customers for touch tone service, as if that cost them more? It’s payback time. Ameritech was getting $70 a month from me, but not anymore. My long distance provider was getting over $100 a month with me paying 4.5 cents for long distance calls. No more, it’s all flat rate now.

They even have a smaller package for people who don’t use the phone as much which is $26.00 for 500 minutes per month and unlimited local calls. The problem with local calls is that they probably don’t have an area code where you live yet so your free “local” calls would only be good in an area that you probably don’t live in. Go with the $40 plan, it’s probably cheaper than what you pay now.

The downside of this service? I didn’t get a local phone number. The closest area code to me was in Chicago which is 6 hours away. This doesn’t bother me though, nobody calls me at home anyway since I have a cell phone. I settled on a random area code in California. Also 3-way calling would be nice but they don’t seem to offer that yet. And if you want a 2nd phone number or a 2nd line, you have to buy another $40/month box. Still not a bad deal though, less than $100 for 2 phone lines and unlimited long distance calling.

This product officially renders stealing phone calls utterly useless. As if stealing phone calls wasn’t pointless enough with cell phones being so cheap and offering free long distance on nights and weekends. Now we get free LEGAL quality long distance with Vonage. This will hopefully be followed by the collapse of a bunch of long distance companies. And if local phone companies don’t start competing by offering the same cheap services, they’ll end up being next. The phone companies all needed a good shakeup like this, we can only hope it’ll result in better service and cheaper products. Do your part by purchasing a Vonage system immediately!

talk about Vonage on Cal’s forums

Brad Carter

I run this town.

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