Vonage, CallVantage, or other VoIP?

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yourbeliefs

yourbeliefs

Thread Starter
Something Profound
Pub Member / Supporter
Sep 20, 2007
13,170
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My mom recently passed away, and I am living in the house until we get it ready to sell it and move out. As a result, I not only am responsible for upkeep, but paying bills (or sending them out to the executor of the estate) as well. Also as a result, I have been doing a lot of cost cutting, and one place that could use a LOT of that is the phone bill. Currently I have to pay about $100 a month for phone and DSL, and only $30 of that is for my Pro DSL service. I use my cell phone for 95% of my communications, but I don't want to just cancel the house # since that is the only point of contact to the house, and also want to keep it open for any communications from companies/people about my mother.

At first I was looking at Vonage and that looked very appealing, and then I saw some people here had "CallVantage" by AT&T and seemed to enjoy that, although I just read a story that said that CallVantage will be phased out very soon in favor of another offering by AT&T. I looked around at a few other services that have been mentioned on this site, and it seems like all of them are "award-winning" in some way (according to the respective websites.) ViaTalk and MagicJack looked very appealing, but the inability to transfer my existing number over rather defeats the purpose of this.

A few other comments/questions about my situation:

The Pro internet speed is about 280-300 kb/s down and about 40-60 kb/s up. I often download over Bit Torrent network, which usually sucks up my bandwidth. The speeds get down to old school ISDN speeds sometimes. Would that cause a problem with talking to people on the phone, and vice versa, would talking on the phone have a major impact on my download/upload speeds?

Is transferring your phone number over a pain in the a**? As I said, I have AT&T currently.

People have mentioned issues with Vonage where you can't make some 800-number calls, especially 866. Can anyone attest to this, such as is this a problem on their services? The range of VoIP services people use on this site seems to be rather extensive.

Any thoughts/experiences on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 
jokeworm

jokeworm

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 29, 2006
1,118
0
Tulsa. Ok.
Speed should be fine for VOIP.

I had Vonage for quite a while .. zero issues whatsoever .. might be worth getting the "500 min" plan if it is not going to be used all that much - $14.99 + fee's per month .. (i assume you don't want to get locked into a long-term contract.

I moved form Vonage to Sunrocket a few years ago - again zero problems .. unfortunately - they went bust .. so last year i moved to Viatalk ... which for the most part has been working - however its been MUCH more spotty and troublesome than any other VOIP service i have ever had over the past 4-5 years.

I'm now mainly using a pay as you go provider .... callwithus.com or future-nine.com and viatalk as a backup (as it is not exactly reliable for me)

If i were you - i would stump the few dollars extra for vonage .. it just plain works - its solid - its idiot proof - the control panel is much better than any other out there - and for a new VOIP user its probably all you could ever need. ... if you can find someone on here to give you a referal - you should be able to get your first two months free ...

Xfer of the phone number will probably take a couple of weeks ... make sure you don;t turn off your old service until the xfer has gone through completely.

Yes Bittorent use will effect call quality - unless you have a decent router that does QOS and prioritizes your voice traffic - you may have to limit your upload/download speeds at times when you may be expecting calls - else your call quality can get very choppy ...
 
Ramy

Ramy

The Star Wars Collector Podcast
Supporting Founder
Jan 27, 2004
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512
Here
I have Packet8 and it is good for me.
 
yourbeliefs

yourbeliefs

Thread Starter
Something Profound
Pub Member / Supporter
Sep 20, 2007
13,170
275
Northeast
Speed should be fine for VOIP.

I had Vonage for quite a while .. zero issues whatsoever .. might be worth getting the "500 min" plan if it is not going to be used all that much - $14.99 + fee's per month .. (i assume you don't want to get locked into a long-term contract.

I moved form Vonage to Sunrocket a few years ago - again zero problems .. unfortunately - they went bust .. so last year i moved to Viatalk ... which for the most part has been working - however its been MUCH more spotty and troublesome than any other VOIP service i have ever had over the past 4-5 years.

I'm now mainly using a pay as you go provider .... callwithus.com or future-nine.com and viatalk as a backup (as it is not exactly reliable for me)

If i were you - i would stump the few dollars extra for vonage .. it just plain works - its solid - its idiot proof - the control panel is much better than any other out there - and for a new VOIP user its probably all you could ever need. ... if you can find someone on here to give you a referal - you should be able to get your first two months free ...

Xfer of the phone number will probably take a couple of weeks ... make sure you don;t turn off your old service until the xfer has gone through completely.

Yes Bittorent use will effect call quality - unless you have a decent router that does QOS and prioritizes your voice traffic - you may have to limit your upload/download speeds at times when you may be expecting calls - else your call quality can get very choppy ...
Yeah my router is rather old. I think it's a WRT54G (or whatever the popular Linksys router is) version 2 or 3, and I had to use a modified firmware in order to get it to download BT stuff without taking major nosedives in speed.
 
Neutron

Neutron

Founding Supporter
Supporting Founder
Nov 7, 2003
18,730
1,122
Texas
We just reordered Vonage after not having it for 2 years. When we had it before we had it for 3 years. It's pretty dang reliable, and if it goes out you have the option to have those calls forwarded to another number automatically.
 
Ramy

Ramy

The Star Wars Collector Podcast
Supporting Founder
Jan 27, 2004
30,897
512
Here
We just reordered Vonage after not having it for 2 years. When we had it before we had it for 3 years. It's pretty dang reliable, and if it goes out you have the option to have those calls forwarded to another number automatically.

I have mine ring at the same time on my cell phone.
 
TheForce

TheForce

SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Pub Member / Supporter
Oct 13, 2003
34,726
11,623
Jacksonville, FL, Earth
Thanks ramy. I need to tell my sister that. She switched to Vonage last year and since, I can never reach her. Everytime the local cable company loses internet for them her phone is unreachable. IT happens way too often. In some areas, VOIP is just a terrible option due to the BB internet reliability.
Personally, I would never use it. Instead I shut off my landline in January with ATT and switched the number to my cell phone. My cell service is as reliable as a landline here and I don't miss the landline one bit.
This year we have had 5 outages of cable modem service and it was back on in a few hours. However, if I had the cable phone service I would have had no phone during that time and would need the cell phone anyway. If I do need a special phone service beyond what the cell can do, I have used skype which worked well.
 
yourbeliefs

yourbeliefs

Thread Starter
Something Profound
Pub Member / Supporter
Sep 20, 2007
13,170
275
Northeast
T

thecristman

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 14, 2007
772
1
My mom recently passed away, and I am living in the house until we get it ready to sell it and move out. As a result, I not only am responsible for upkeep, but paying bills (or sending them out to the executor of the estate) as well. Also as a result, I have been doing a lot of cost cutting, and one place that could use a LOT of that is the phone bill. Currently I have to pay about $100 a month for phone and DSL, and only $30 of that is for my Pro DSL service. I use my cell phone for 95% of my communications, but I don't want to just cancel the house # since that is the only point of contact to the house, and also want to keep it open for any communications from companies/people about my mother.

At first I was looking at Vonage and that looked very appealing, and then I saw some people here had "CallVantage" by AT&T and seemed to enjoy that, although I just read a story that said that CallVantage will be phased out very soon in favor of another offering by AT&T. I looked around at a few other services that have been mentioned on this site, and it seems like all of them are "award-winning" in some way (according to the respective websites.) ViaTalk and MagicJack looked very appealing, but the inability to transfer my existing number over rather defeats the purpose of this.

A few other comments/questions about my situation:

The Pro internet speed is about 280-300 kb/s down and about 40-60 kb/s up. I often download over Bit Torrent network, which usually sucks up my bandwidth. The speeds get down to old school ISDN speeds sometimes. Would that cause a problem with talking to people on the phone, and vice versa, would talking on the phone have a major impact on my download/upload speeds?

Is transferring your phone number over a pain in the a**? As I said, I have AT&T currently.

People have mentioned issues with Vonage where you can't make some 800-number calls, especially 866. Can anyone attest to this, such as is this a problem on their services? The range of VoIP services people use on this site seems to be rather extensive.

Any thoughts/experiences on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


The lowest cost service I have tried is called Magicjack.

magicJack

It costs just $29 the first year and includes a full year of long distance. I have used it for almost 5 months now and it works great. The only problem I have had with it has been the lack of local numbers in my area.

I think a while back there was a link somewhere here in the group for a special deal, but I may be wrong. But anyway, give it a try, it works great and you can use it anywhere there is a high speed internet connection.
 
T

Thoreau

Member
Jul 8, 2008
10
0
Yeah my router is rather old. I think it's a WRT54G (or whatever the popular Linksys router is) version 2 or 3, and I had to use a modified firmware in order to get it to download BT stuff without taking major nosedives in speed.

I run a Linksys WRT54GS (rev 2 or 3 i think) and can't recommend DD-WRT firmware enough. I use torrents heavily as well, but the QoS in DD-WRT has had no problems taking care of that. Just tell it your actual speeds in the config, and from there you can prioritize things very easily. Port-based priority is by far the easiest to set up. Plug your VoIP device into port 4, and tell DD-WRT to make that the highest priority port. Xbox 360 on port 3 with next highest priority, PC on port 2 with standard/normal priority, etc. Works like a champ!

I'll mirror the concerns voiced so far about the upstream bandwidth on your connection though. After factoring in overhead, packet loss, jitter, etc. I wouldn't want to run any VoIP service without a little more breathing room personally.
 
digiblur

digiblur

SatelliteGuys Master
Jun 8, 2005
14,190
4
Louisiana
I've been using VoicePulse for almost 5 years and love it and QOS on a router is a beautiful thing.
 
yourbeliefs

yourbeliefs

Thread Starter
Something Profound
Pub Member / Supporter
Sep 20, 2007
13,170
275
Northeast
Your download speeds should be fine but I would be a little concerned going VOIP with only 40-60 upload speed. Follow this link to test you Internet connection.

How Can I Test My Internet Connection? - VoIP Internet Phone Support: Vonage – A Better Way to Phone for Less

Well I ran the test and here were the results:

2482 kbps down, 431 kbps up. My available bandwidth is superb (according to them.)

So I think I'm going to go with them. I want to transfer my AT&T Number to them though. (How ironic, literally as I started typing that last line a Vonage ad came on TV) Where do I go from here?
 
digiblur

digiblur

SatelliteGuys Master
Jun 8, 2005
14,190
4
Louisiana
Watch out for the other fees they tack on.... not sure if they still do it but Vonage tags on tax and some other fees.

It isn't about bandwidth for VoIP. All it needs is 90kbps up and down. It's all about packet loss and packet jitter. You could make it run just fine on a 128kbps line if their was no packet loss and the jitter was minimal.
 
yourbeliefs

yourbeliefs

Thread Starter
Something Profound
Pub Member / Supporter
Sep 20, 2007
13,170
275
Northeast
Watch out for the other fees they tack on.... not sure if they still do it but Vonage tags on tax and some other fees.

It isn't about bandwidth for VoIP. All it needs is 90kbps up and down. It's all about packet loss and packet jitter. You could make it run just fine on a 128kbps line if their was no packet loss and the jitter was minimal.
Well that's true for every sort of service nowadays. Also, at this point, even if I were to go for their best package of $24.95, that's still cheaper than the ~$50 that I'm paying to AT&T for the same services. I'd be going for the $14.95 plan anyways.

I do find it somewhat funny that I'm basically canceling my phone company's phone service so that I can use their DSL service to get phone service from someone else. Nice little f-u to the company that for years could simply just screw over their customers and simply say "What are YOU gonna do about it?" Hell they could have made T-shirts with that on them and put them on their service people.
 
B

Bulldog

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 22, 2004
546
0
We just reordered Vonage after not having it for 2 years. When we had it before we had it for 3 years. It's pretty dang reliable, and if it goes out you have the option to have those calls forwarded to another number automatically.

I agree, Vonage is very reliable!
 
digiblur

digiblur

SatelliteGuys Master
Jun 8, 2005
14,190
4
Louisiana
I do find it somewhat funny that I'm basically canceling my phone company's phone service so that I can use their DSL service to get phone service from someone else. Nice little f-u to the company that for years could simply just screw over their customers and simply say "What are YOU gonna do about it?" Hell they could have made T-shirts with that on them and put them on their service people.

My boys just released their shirt with this ;)

"What are you gonna do about it" shirts
 
R

robfwb

Active SatelliteGuys Member
May 5, 2005
24
0
Try out

magicJack

it's a USB device and costs $20 a year.

(Warning: automatic video starts)

-Rob
 
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