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 Post subject: Vonage alternatives?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 5:28 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1328
Vonage is on a rocky road at the moment, having been successfully sued for $58 million by Verizon for patent infringement and narrowly escaping an injunction to stop accepting new customers.

I have a Vonage account for my home office line here in Montreal, not so much to save money but for a very specific reason: I live in Canada but all my clients and colleagues are in Washington, DC. Vonage allowed me to set up a virtual phone number in DC so everyone there can reach me with a local call. That's a feature that I haven't seen offered by anyone else: sure, Bell Canada and Videotron (cable) allow me to set up virtual numbers, but only within Canada. Vonage is the only company I know of that lets you set up a virtual number in other countries.

I'm sticking with Vonage for now as I'm satisfied with their service, but if they do go belly-up I'll need to find a solution quickly. Anyone know of any comparable service that would allow me to set up a virtual phone number that is truly a local call for my colleagues and clients in DC? Many of my clients work for government agencies and are actually blocked from making direct calls to Canada, so a local number in DC is pretty important.


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 Post subject: What is Vonage?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 4:58 pm
Posts: 948
Location: Portland, Oregon
I know I'll probably lose my geek credentials for this, but what is Vonage? Is it internet-based phone service? How does it differ from Skype? I downloaded and installed Skype last week, but haven't had time to work with it. I'd love to start a GRS podcast, though, and rumor has it Skype is the tool to use for this...


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 2:05 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1328
Vonage is telephone-over-internet (in geek-speak it's VOIP, which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol), and you can use it with a normal telephone. A lot of phone companies now offer a similar service. Cost advantage is that you usually get unlimited calls anywhere in the US (and sometimes overseas) for a lower fee than you pay for traditional phone service. Disadvantages are that 911 doesn't work as well and phone service can be a bit spotty if your Internet connection isn't reliable. Plus the sound quality's not quite as good as regular telephone.

There aren't as many differences between Vonage and Skype as there used to be...you can now use Skype with a regular phone too, I think (but am not sure); it used to be you needed to use your computer to talk over Skype or else a special Skype-configured phone.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 8:19 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
We have Shaw Digital Phone here in Alberta. It works just fine for us so far, though we're relatively new adopters (only about two weeks in).

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:01 am
Posts: 243
brad,

Why doesn't Skype meet your needs? It sounds ideal for what you're looking for.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:48 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1328
Skype may in fact end up being the answer, but I think their "Skype In" service requires you to pick a phone number in your own country, at least that was the way it worked last time I checked. Plus I've used Skype for calls occasionally over the past year and have never found the quality or reliability very good..people on the other end always complained they had trouble hearing me. But I'll try it again with a better headset!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:20 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:01 am
Posts: 243
I use Skype to phone my girlfriend's cell on a regular basis. Call quality there is acceptable.

While I haven't done it in a while, when I've tried phoning from Canada to the US, I have had problems with the call quality.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 9:57 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:56 pm
Posts: 39
Location: Trumbull, CT
I used Voice Pulse happily for over a year. Unfortunately my cable company offered me a better deal.

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 Post subject: Re: Vonage alternatives?
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 8:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:19 pm
Posts: 15
brad wrote:
I have a Vonage account for my home office line here in Montreal, not so much to save money but for a very specific reason: I live in Canada but all my clients and colleagues are in Washington, DC. Vonage allowed me to set up a virtual phone number in DC so everyone there can reach me with a local call. That's a feature that I haven't seen offered by anyone else: sure, Bell Canada and Videotron (cable) allow me to set up virtual numbers, but only within Canada. Vonage is the only company I know of that lets you set up a virtual number in other countries.


Lingo (http://www.lingo.com) is operated by Primus, some Canadian outfit. :)

Lingo offers virtual numbers in all manner of countries. I'm not sure what the business charge is for that, but I could add one virtual number to my home service for $5/month and up, depending on where the virtual number was. I expect that you could get a DC number easily.

Now, if this is out of line for these forums, someone say something: Lingo offers a referral plan where a new customer references an old customer, and if the new customer stays for 91 days, both customers get a $25 service credit. In the early days I went 8 months without being billed. If you need to switch due to Vonage problems, drop me a note and we can set up a referral. Again, if this is out of line for these forums, someone say something and I'll not mention this again.

In my case, Lingo had an extra feature that caught my attention. When I signed up, my no-charge outbound calling area was the US, Canada, and western Europe. I have friends in Canada and one on the edge of the Black Forest in Germany. Since then they've added a few countries.


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 4:01 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1328
Thanks, that's a great tip! I have to wonder if they'd be subject to the same kinds of patent-infringement issues that Vonage is facing, but if Vonage does go belly-up and I lose my number, I will definitely contact you to get a referral. This looks like what I need.

The virtual number thing, by the way, is the killer feature of Vonage as far as I'm concerned. My girlfriend's parents live in France and are retired, and we've thought of getting them a virtual local number in France so they can call us in Canada without incurring long-distance charges.


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 6:57 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 3:00 pm
Posts: 411
Location: Chicago
I have to say, I do love Vonage. And at least one site I've read claims that prior art exists to nullify the patent claim, so they'll probably be okay (I hope!)

I want more control though. I would love to be able to route numbers for incoming calls, so I have have family members use the simul-ring feature and ring cells as well as home, while "Unknown Number" calls would get dumped straight to voicemail without ringing at all. That would make me very happy.

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