Product Type: Vonage in Telecommunications Services
Newest Review: ... adaptor that sits between your telephone handset and your broadband router. Vonage provide extremely simple setup instructions in-bo... more
Have broadband and looking for ways to slash your call charges? Read on...
Vonage VoIP Service
Member Name: DJBenson
Vonage VoIP Service
Advantages: Cheap, easy to set up
Disadvantages: No service if you lose your broadband service
~~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~~
Despite the technology having been around for the best part of a decade, many people are still unaware what VoIP (or Voice Over Internet Protocol) is and what the benefits of using it are, so here is your crash course.
VoIP is a method of converting your voice into digital data which can be transmitted over a network, and in most instances, across the internet. It is a direct replacement for copper phone lines that we have used for over 100 years. With the right equipment, you can plug in a standard telephone (both corded and cordless are fine) and make calls over the internet to any other telephone just as if you were using the copper-based system.
Many providers exist in the VoIP market but some are better than others in packaging their services for a domestic market, to make setup and installation as easy as possible for even the most hardened technophobe.
Vonage are an American VoIP provider who have been providing their services in the US and UK for many years. They offer a service whereby you purchase a simple adaptor that you plug into your broadband router to which you then connect your existing telephone equipment.
To use Vonage' services you are going to need an existing broadband service (both ADSL and Cable will work fine, as will the newer BT Infinity and other branded Fibre products), a router (usually provided by your broadband supplier) and your existing telephone equipment.
Once you sign up to Vonage, you'll be provided with a new telephone number of your choice (and the option of buying additional virtual numbers - ideal if you run a business) and a simple telephone adaptor that sits between your telephone handset and your broadband router.
Vonage provide extremely simple setup instructions in-box, but the basic premise is; plug the adaptor into your router using the supplied cable, plug your telephone into the adaptor and finally connect the adaptor to the mains. A couple of minutes later and the adaptor will have registered with the Vonage network and you'll be able to make and receive calls using your new number. Easy!
If you have grown attached to your current landline number then Vonage will help you to bring it across from your current provider - most providers will allow number porting in the UK but check with them first to avoid issues.
The packages Vonage currently offer (correct as of the date of this review) are;
V-PLAN UK @ £5.99/month - offering unlimited UK calls and 20 call features
V-PLAN 2 @ £8.99/month - as per V-PLAN UK + 26 additional countries of inclusive calls
V-PLAN 3 @ £10.99/month - as per V-PLAN UK + 42 additional countries of inclusive calls
V-PLAN 4i @ £18.99/month - as per V-PLAN UK + 49 additional countries of inclusive calls
There are always special offers to be had on www.vonage.co.uk - currently there are introductory offers of 3 months reduced calling plans.
Vonage offer an incredible array of features as standard - most traditional phone providers would charge in the region of £1 per feature. I won't list all of the features here but the most useful examples include caller display (to display the number of the incoming caller), voicemail (to take calls whilst you are out) and anonymous call block (to prevent callers who block/withhold their number from getting through to you).
For the full range of features, visit http://www.vonage.co.uk/inclusive-call-features/
~~~~VONAGE VS TRADITIONAL LANDLINE PROVIDER~~~~
There are some differences between a traditional landline provider and a VoIP provider such as Vonage, some of which may be the difference between you going with a VoIP provider or a traditional telephone provider.
For a start you must have a broadband connection, as VoIP is wholly reliant on accessing the internet. This has some pitfalls, not least the fact that if you lose your internet connection, you'll also lose the ability to make and receive calls. Vonage do help out a little here as they will automatically divert your incoming calls to a number of your choice should your service be down.
If you live in a household that makes heavy use of your internet connection, then the quality of your calls may suffer as the call data contends with the other data trying to get down the line. I have experienced drop outs, echoes and a dramatic drop in quality whilst I've been downloading and trying to make a phone call but it rarely happens so maybe not so much of a problem for you.
You'll need to register emergency contact details with Vonage which are used to associate your account with any calls made to the Emergency services - this is a formality I believe.
You will also be allocated a telephone number which is taken from a pool of numbers reserved for VoIP use - in practical terms this can mean issues with incoming calls made from the same area code (where you'd generally omit dialling the code). Your caller may receive an engaged or out of service tone if dialling you from the same area code having omitted the code. I'm not sure if this has been resolved now, but I joined Vonage four years ago and since first having the problems I always make a point of telling people to dial the area code. You may also find people say "Is that the right telephone number?" when you give them your number - in my town, our traditional telephone numbers start with a 4 but my Vonage number begins with a 5 which always causes confusion.
There are both pro's and con's to taking a VoIP service over a traditional telephone service, not least the dramatic reduction in costs - the price of the cheapest Vonage package is less than half that of BT's cheapest option and Vonage include unlimited calls and a host of additional features.
If you live in a connected home, then you likely have everything you need to slot a Vonage service into and begin making great savings. If you don't currently have broadband then it simply isn't for you.
Summary: Unlimited calls, great features and a low monthly cost.
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