Vonage: Six Months Later

A follow-up to our review of the VoIP phone service

By Charlie White,

(8/10/05) Vonage is a low-priced phone service that lets you use
your Internet connection instead of a conventional phone line to make
unlimited long distance phone calls in the United States and Canada.
Its $24.99 monthly cost is half that of regional Bell phone services
with comparable features. After our original review from six months
ago, in which we awarded the service eight stars out of ten, we thought
it would be a good idea to give you our long-term impression of Vonage.
Did it deliver on its promise of comparable phone service for half the

As you might have already read in our previous review, the switchover
to Vonage from SBC, the regional Bell company we previously used here
at the Midwest Test Facility, was a rocky road. After several attempts
at getting the system to run, with the help of Vonage tech-support
personnel finally all was well. After further tinkering, I adapted the
Vonage technology to accommodate our complicated network topology here.
But that was just the beginning. Changing my phone number over to
Vonage turned out to be a process that took much longer than I thought
it would. Months went by, and finally after three months, the phone
number that adorns all my business cards was finally changed over to
the Vonage service. I could at last say goodbye to that temporary phone
number that Vonage assigned me months earlier.

Meanwhile, I was settling down to the mediocrity that is Vonage
service. Some connections are near-perfect, resembling their
counterparts in the traditional telephone world. But about half the
time, numerous pops, snaps, distortion, hissing noises and dropped
words throughout the conversation are the norm. I’ve gotten to the
point where I just try to ignore all the extraneous noises that
accompany fully 50% of my phone calls. A problem with all phone calls
while using Vonage is a slight delay in my voice reaching its
destination. This delay falls well beyond that 10th-of-a-second
interval that researchers have discovered is the limit of waiting
between someone finishes their statement and you beginning yours before
awkwardness sets in. Beyond that, by far the worst idiosyncrasy of the
Vonage service is the strange echo of my own voice that happens about
10% of the time. After six months of heavy use, the sound quality of
Vonage gets about 3 out of 10 stars.


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