Vonage Review Vonage Review home things to do in silver spring, md links schools consumer information

  voip telephone service
Vonage Review
By Eron Cohen     

Read my review of Vonage Digital Voice Phone Service

Important Note 10/13/2014: I am now a former Vonage customer. Although their service is still better than the cable companies and traditional phone companies, their advertised prices are much lower than you actually pay.

I had over $11 of extra monthly "junk" fees by the time I finally stopped using Vonage. I have since moved to a different solution--one that is free of a monthly fee--you just have to pay for a box and use Google Voice for your home phone. Also, consider dumping your landline altogether and getting Republic Wireless for $19/month.

Now that yo've read the above, are you still wondering if you should get Vonage? Read My Customer Review and Learn More About Vonage's Broadband Phone Service

I was a Vonage customer for more than 10 years. My experience has been good overall. Below is my review of the service. I update it frequently to keep up with the new features and developments with the service. I have found it to be an okay value and a very good alternative to traditional phone sevice.

Vonage is a broadband phone service which can save you quite a bit of money. When you get Vonage, you use your high-speed internet connection to make telephone calls with your regular telephone. Vonage sends you a little box that you attach to your cable modem or dsl connection, and in turn you plug your telephone (or telephones) into that box. At my house, with a little bit of wizardry, Vonage's dialtone is connected to all of the phone jacks in my home.

Among its competitors offering broadband telephone service, Vonage is one of the most advanced and has the most subscibers (now over two million people have Vonage phone service and they have completed billions of phone calls!). Having said that, if you are thinking of getting Vonage, there are a few things you should know first:

1) Call quality will vary depending on your internet bandwidth, which can fluxate. If you have a good broadband internet connection, you won't have problems, but if you have a borderline connection, possible problems can occur. Most cable, FIOS and dsl connections will work fine though.

2) You must have a cable modem or DSL to use this service. Dial-up connections won't be able to provide the necessary bandwidth. The service makes the most sense for people with Cable modems or a DSL connection. If you have a cable modem or DSL, odds are very good that you will have the speed (bandwidth) to use this service. People with satelite or other kinds of broadband connections seem to have varying degrees of luck with this. Vonage has a money back guarantee, so if it doesn't work properly for you, you only risk your time spent, just be sure to save the original boxes.

3) Outgoing caller ID only has your telephone number, not your name. On the other hand, you see the usual CallerID details when someone calls you. Incoming CallerID is included free with Vonage.

4) Most people can keep their existing telephone number. When you sign up for the service, you can type in a telephone number to transfer to Vonage. Their system will tell you if it is possible for you to keep your number or not.

The great things are the flexibility and low costs involved with this service. You'll enjoy great features such as being able to pick a telephone number from almost anywhere in the USA or Canada--you can even have numbers in multiple markets. There is always a current list of available area codes on the vonage website.

Other features included free are: an unlisted telephone number, call waiting, callerID, call forwarding, anonymous call blocking, do not disturb, 7-digit dialing (rather than area code +number used in many markets), voicemail--including the ability to recieve messages via email, repeat dial, * 69, *67 (block callerID), call transfer (very cool), real-time billing and more.

Vonage recently added another great new free feature called "simul ring". This allows you to set it up so that when someone calls your Vonage telephone number, a second number or even third number will ring at the same time. This is great if you want to take calls from home, at the office too. I like that they tend to add features every few months...all for free. The coolest part is that you can take your telephone number with you wherever you are--you just need a broadband connection.

For $25/month you get all of the features above, UNLIMITED national long distance (including unlimited calls to Puerto Rico and Canada, France, UK, Ireland, Italy and Spain) and unlimited regional long distance and local calls. There are also international calling plans available. If you opt to pay for an entire year in advance you get a discount plus unlimited calling to 60 countries.

Recently, Vonage added a "basic" plan for $11.99. All calls that you make, regional, local or long distance, all count towards your 300 alloted minues. So with that calling plan you'd pay about 3 cents per minute after you used your 300 minutes of domestic/Canada calls. This is a pretty good deal if you don't make that many calls. It is very important to note that INCOMING calls do not count toward your 300 minutes. Only outgoing calls (however calls to voice mail, other Vonage customers and toll free numbers are free too). Vonage is also offering a yearly plan..

Vonage has excellent International rates so if you're calling abroad you're covered. For instance, you can call London, Germany and other parts of Europe for 2 cents per minute, Hong Kong and Japan for 3 cents per minute, Moscow for 9 cents/minute, parts of India for 12 cents/minute, and South Korea for 6 cents/minute. They have also recently added upgrades for calling internationally. For instance you can pay an additional $6/month and have unlimited calling to most phones in Europe. They have similar calling plans for the rest of the world. In addition, as I stated earlier, with a pre-paid plan you also get free international calls to over 60 countries.

For international callers, Vonage offers an extra feature called "Extensions". What it basically does isi allows you to dial an access number and a pin to make calls abroad on your Vonage plan. The feature is free, but the catch is that you have to authorize a single phone number (like your work phone number or your cell phone) to be able to call the access number. Calls from other phones won't work unless you pay $4.99/month to add another line. The upside of this would be if you have a family member or a friend that would benefit from your international calling plan, you can put their number in as the authorized phone to dial from. If you get the "extentions app" for your iPhone or Android phone, you'll be able to skip dialing the access number/pin to make calls. I use it on my Republic Wireless android mobile phone to make calls to Europe.

vonage extentions feature for international calls

If you are a small business owner, you should definitely think about switching to Vonage. For $39.95/month you get all the features mentioned above, with 1500 minutes/month. Plus, you get a second line meant for faxing for free. That line includes 500 more outgoing minutes. (Incoming minutes on both lines are unlimited and "free"). They also have a $49.95 plan that includes unlimited calling.

All in all the Vonage DigitalVoice service is very good. I am very happy I got rid of Verizon, the Baby Bell in my area. Before I switched from Verizon to Vonage, I was paying about $39/month just to get a dialtone, unlisted number, caller ID and call waiting. I was paying approximately another $50/month on "regional" calls. Regional calls are usually calls that are long distance within your state or surrounding state area. Both of Vonage's residential calling plans allow for free regional calls. As I mentioned above, the international long distance rates are also very competitive. In fact, I would say that the only way to get cheaper international rates is to buy telephone cards, which are, well, a bit of a pain. As you can tell, using DigialVoice makes a huge difference on my monthly bill.

Vonage works very well so its no wonder that its "America's fastest growing phone company"--I definitely recommend it. For most people the biggest sticking point will be whether or not they have the bandwidth to make it work. You should have about 90k of bandwidth available for a normal sounding telephone call (most cable and dsl connections provide ALOT more bandwidth than this!). If you do, people usually won't notice you're not on a normal land line. Vonage has a feature where you can change the sound quality level to conserve bandwidth, but it definitely lowers the quality of the sound. If you don't know how much bandwidth you have, you can use the test page that Vonage has setup...it will tell you if you have the bandwidth to support their service. Just follow the link at the end of this article.

Who is this service right for? Well, anyone with a broadband internet connection who wants to save money on their telephone bills. If you have broadband internet, you should give it a try. This is an ideal telephone service for college students. The savings and the fact you can take your home telephone number home with you on summer break make it a no-brainer. It is also a good deal for a second phone line--especially their $17.99/month plan (great if you have teenagers who get lots of calls!). As I mentioned before, they allow you to pick a second telephone number in another area code (or a 1-800 number with 100 free incoming minutes) that will also ring to your phone. If you have alot of relatives in another city in the USA, Canada, London, England or Mexico City, this would be a great way to save them money. The second telephone number is about $5/month extra. The service could also be used abroad...if you had relatives in another country they could use Vonage to get a local telephone number in the US. Finally, I am very glad to tell you that since I switched to Vonage, I haven't gotten a SINGLE telemarketing call. The baby bell phone companies are happy to help telemarketers reach you, and then charge you for their ineffective call intercept solutions. Vonage DigitalVoice apparently is doing much more to protect your privacy.

I take advantage of a new feature they've just added--a second line for $9.99 per month. This could be used with a fax machine or for the teenager's in your home. You get a seperate phone number, and it uses the second phone port on the router that is included with Vonage**--in effect you have two completely seperate lines. This is different from the $5/month option for a second phone number I mention above. With the $5 option, you get a second phone number that rings to the same telephone. With the $9.99 option, you get a seperate phone number that actually utilizes a different telephone (or fax machine).

There are three other relatively new features which were just added for free. One of them is part of the voice mail service, which is the ability to have your voice mail messages emailed to you as WAV files. This is just a terrific way to get your messages. I like it because when I get an important message, I can save it "forever" as I would any other email. If you don't like that option you can also pick up your voicemail via the web or by dialing a telephone number. For a fee, you can also have Vonage transcribe your voicemail messages to text messages and email them to you. For a professional on the go with a blackberry, this can be a useful service.

The other new features is the ability to have two phone numbers ring at the same time. For example you can setup vonage so that whenever your home phone number rings, your cell phone will ring at the same time. This is excellent because it means you never ever miss calls. The recently added a free 311 and 511 service. 311 service basically connects you with your local city government services phone number if there is any such thing in your area. 511 is to get local traffic reports. Finally they have added local "access" numbers all over the USA and in a few other countries, so that people who do not have Vonage can still call Vonage customers for free, without having to dial long distance.

Vonage is now testing other new features, such as their contact manager. Vonage's contact manager will allow for some innovative features. For instance, you can "blast" a voice mail message to 20 of your contacts. You typically see this in larger organizations where an important message needs to be sent to lots of people. For instance a school might use a feature like this to call the parents of the students in the 4th grade to tell them of an upcoming event. With this feature, you can just record a message, select the contacts who are to receive it and then all of them will receive a call and hear your message. The contact manager also lets you conference call with up to 5 people. There is also a free online fax sender. These features raise the bar once again for what a consumer can have access to without paying a fortune.

Vonage also has the Vonage Pro service, which includes a softphone you can run on your computer. The softphone is very advanced--it will even record telephone calls. It contains all of your contacts and is chock full of useful features. One thing I find very useful is the fact that you can place a call on your home phone and using the Vonage Pro softphone simulataneously. This means I can make phone calls at work on my home phone number and don't have to worry if another family member is on the phone at home. In other words, its like having an extra line that you can use to make calls from your computer. For a fuller solution, Vonage recently purchased Vocalocity--an excellent low cost business solution.

Vonage Mobile Apps

Vonage also offers several kinds of computer based and mobile phone software, that let you make international and domestic calls cheap! Aside from the above mentioned softphone, there is their facebook application and two flavors of mobile apps you can get.

I think the most interesting app is their "Vonage Mobile" App on the Apple iPad/iPod platform and Android. Vonage Mobile is a free app that lets you talk and text for free worldwide with anyone else who has the app. The app accessess your address book and flags the people who have Vonage numbers--so you'll know who you can call for free. Other people in your address book will have a per minute rate next to their name, so you'll know ahead of time what you are up for before you go to to call them. They give you alot for free right now, including unlimited texting and free calling minutes. It is also free to call other people who have the app. Also, the voice quality is very good, crisp and clear. Finally, the app allows you to share your location and photos with people in your address book. Their latest version of the app supports bluetooth calling and the ability to send contact information during the call.

The software is starting to get more popular and may even be able to rival skype--it definitely has similarities. You can purchase credits to call people who do not have Vonage. Keep in mind of course, you'll want to either have a good data plan or to connect your mobile device to Wifi, otherwise, these calls could potentially get expensive.

Another recent development is Vonage's Facebook application. It is a great way to make free phone calls to Facebook friends all over the world.

As of August 2011 they also now have two other options to make mobile calls on your Vonage account--one of them is a dialup number. You call the dialup number and then enter a pin and from there, you can then dial an international number which is billed at Vonage's regular rates. Be aware that you must specify just ONE phone number that you can call from. In other words, this service is locked to one mobile phone, so you can't use it "just anywhere". Vonage just released their iPad app that lets you make calls as stated in the above, but without having to dial all those numbers.

Another development is the vonage "time to talk" app which is currently available on the iPhone and Android. This app will basically let you call from you mobile phone using the Vonage network.

For more information about Vonage, see my Vonage Frequently Asked Questions.

** Vonage periodically changes the adaptor brand and version that they send out with their connection kit. The current adaptor from Linksys is very nice and is a full broadband router with 3 ethernet ports. So if you were in need of a router, as a sort of bonus, you get one when you sign up for Vonage. (If you don't even know what a router is, don't worry, they make it very easy to hook up and if you already have one, this one will still behave just fine as an addition to your home or office network.) They are now working on "my vonage" a router with a troubleshooting LCD screen.

Review last updated on October 13, 2014 to update free month of Vonage offer. Previously I updated the executive summary and mobile plan information. Previous edits were to discuss Vonage Extensions. Previously I added the unlimited international calling on mobile phones such as iphone and blackberry. Before that, I updated to discuss Vonage Pro and the new contact management features. Prior to that it was updated to reflect the new anonymous call block feature. Before that this document was updated to reflect the new V-Access numbers. Vonage Phone company's new LOWER priced UNLIMITED CALL plan (dropped $5 to $24.99), that they now include free calls to Puerto Rico and some European countries, and that you no longer need to dial 1 before each phone call, plus the addition of the 311 city information and 511 traffic information service and the fact that they now have virtual numbers in Mexico City and London. Vonage recently introduced a $6 upgrade which gives unlimited calling throughout Europe. They also now have other dial plans for calling Asia and South America. Vonage now offers wiFi cordless phones. The wi-Fi cordless phones will be a great offering for folks in offices, universities, libraries etc, that offer free wiFi internet access. There is also talk of Vonage Brand Cellular phones. Recently Vonage announced that they now have over 2 million subscribers! Vonage is now offering a USB Key to make it easier for business travelers to login and make phone calls simply by plugging the key into any computer.

4 Reliable VOIP Service!

Vonage has been around for almost a decade. Their phone service is mature and reliable.


‡ Repeat dial: When a number is busy, the repeat dial feature, when activated, will continue to redial until the call is completed. To activate repeat dial, dial 5 and hang up when you get a beep tone signal. Vonage will ring you back when the number you are calling is available. You may continue to make other calls in the interim.

† call transfer: Call transfer allows you to transfer calls seamlessly to any other phone. If you are on an important call, just follow these simple steps to transfer a call anywhere:
1) Press the flash button or switch hook on your telephone and dial #90
2) Dial the 11-digit telephone number
3) Then dial #
4) You will hear a dial tone
5) Hang up the phone let fonage take it from there! Check your vonage manual for other great features like this.

Note: Vonage is pronounced "Vone-ej" not "fonage" with a french accent.

Thinking of ditching your landline altogether? Consider Republic Wireless for $19/month, no contract. Read my Republic Wireless Review:Republic Wireless Unilimited Data

Vonage Executive Summary

vonage phone service

Pros: Service has been around over 10 years, excellent call quality, lots of features, very low prices for domestic and international phone calls

Cons: Some setup required if you want to use the jacks in your house rather than wireless phones, decent internet connection required. Extra fees--About $11/month of surcharges not included in the advertised monthly price.

More Details:
- Vonage uses your existing internet connection to let you place telephone calls with a regular telephone.

- Telephone plans start at $11.99 +taxes and fees.

- For $24.99/month +taxes and fees you get unlimited calls in the US and Canada. Lots of terrific features (call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, Do Not Disturb, call forwarding, call transfer, call hunt, simulRing, ...)
-- plus get a free router.

- International calling plans available but the regular $24.99/month Vonage phone plan includes free calls to some countries.

- No credit card required to get started.

- 30 Day money back guarantee.

Save big on your small business phone with Vonage.

Related Content: Samsung Captivate Review, Republic Wireless

Did you notice? The street signs on Layhill Road spell Longmead Crossing with an extra "E": Longmeade Crossing Drive

© 2014 All rights reserved. Longmeadcrossing.com.