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CallVantage AT&T VOIP - 2007
Old 11-26-2007, 09:30 PM   #1
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CallVantage AT&T VOIP - 2007

I went back and read some of the threads on VOIP and CallVantage. Some problems noted, but I'm being optimistic and hoping some bugs have been worked out by now.

My ISP has been very reliable, and we do have our Pre-Pay cell phones as back up, so I got the ball rolling today.

I called cust service, and the nice lady seemed pretty well informed and helpful (I know, this is *before* we have service and need to call with a problem), but it gave me a glimmer of hope.

Surprisingly, our Cingular/AT&T pre-paid cell phones qualify us for the 'wireless customer' discount (they normally treat pre-paid as third class citizens). So unlimited local/LD is just $20/month, plus whatever taxes are tossed in (supposedly less than a land-line). $30 start-up fee, and $10 S&H for the box.

Process is supposed to be that they validate that they can port our number (AT&T currently, she checked to verify it should not be a problem anyhow), then send out the adapter, and we can start placing calls from the VOIP. We keep receiving calls on the land-line until the number is actually ported.

Fingers will be crossed. I hate messing with something that is used as much as the phone, but I also hate passing up ~ $150 savings and the extra features of VOIP. With all the area codes and cell phone prefixes in this areas, easy to get hit with a toll or LD charge. It will be nice to not even worry about that anymore. But will the new worries be worse? Time will tell.

If it goes well, I will next try to switch my FIL/MIL over, (that will be fun) they don't want to pay for LD, but then complain that they can't call these nearby numbers, and their cell battery is always dead....

I'll let people know how it goes. Any recent good/bad experiences with CallVantage VOIP?

-ERD50
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Old 11-26-2007, 09:56 PM   #2
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Well, at least the first step was fast. I just got the email saying my number will be ported 12/5, and the adapter will be shipped out soon.

-ERD50
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:15 PM   #3
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Progress. Ordered Monday evening, got the box Thursday @ 3PM and was making outgoing calls by 3:22, at least half that time was looking for an extension cord to plug one more wall-wart into.

Call quality seems as good as our land line, an occasional 'chirp' or very short break up, but since I'm actually listening for it, it might be no worse than what the noise was on the cordless phone. I even 'stress tested' it by downloading files as we talked - no problem.

And my name does show up on the CID on the other end. That was one of my gripes about Vonnage - all we saw was 'Illinois Call' and the number when friends using the service called.

So, number to be ported on the 5th. So far, so good.

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Old 12-01-2007, 09:48 PM   #4
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Thanks for the update. I am retiring at the end of the year and am looking for ways to reduce costs. We recently switched to prepaid cell phones. Now instead of $80 a month, we pay about $13. I'm also gonna dump the premiuim cable channels. (Now that the Sopranos is over, we don't watch too much on HBO anymore. ) That should save us another $20 or so. Getting VOIP phone could save us another $20-$30. Keep us posted on how things go.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:17 AM   #5
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So far so good -

Got the email confirming that my number was ported this AM (on schedule). I had my wife make an incoming call, it routed properly to the VOIP. I disconnected our wiring at the junction box and plugged the box into an inside jack and now all the phones are on VOIP. No problems at all.

Had one call yesterday experience a connection problem (although that person also has Comcast VOIP - could it be on their end?). Other than that, good quality - a few 'chops' here and there, will need to monitor it, but pretty good so far. Most calls are much less background noise, and better quality than the land line (except for those short 'chops' in sound).

I just made a couple test calls to an automated menu system, and call quality seemed fine, even when I was downloading multiple files on the computer at the same time.

Since I had only minimal service on the land line, I wont be saving that much, maybe $14/month, plus the convenience of unlimited toll and long distance calls. That may get offset big time by the wife's recent 'requests' for cable or satellite, and the kids 'requests' for more minutes/texts on their cells. One step forward, 3 steps back...

-ERD50
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:09 PM   #6
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Two month update on CallVantage VOIP.

So far, pretty good.

RELIABILITY: It went out once (I have it set so that calls are automatically forwarded to my cell phone, which is almost always off...). Unplug/plug the box and it was OK again.

CALL QUALITY: Pretty good. Normally, we don't even think about it. But it is a bit hard to tell - any noise or drop-out and you wonder if it is the cordless phone you are on, the other persons cordless/cell phone or ? Is it any better/worse than the landline would have been - I can't so a side-by-side, so I'm never sure. A friend has comcast VOIP, and he claims that I sound very clipped and he doesn't have that problem with others, even others with VOIP, so who knows?

The extra features are nice, the price is right ($23.86/month with all taxes/fees after the first bill) with unlimited local/long distance.

About three times, before the dial tone, it gave us a voice prompt asking us to confirm our 911 address (just press '1' to tell it no change). That may have been due to a power glitch, or maybe our ISP resetting a connection or something. They do that to make sure that you update your 911 address in case you physically moved the box. The one time I did reboot the box, I got that short ring that tells you it completed, but that is the only time I was aware of that.

So far, so good, I'd say.

BTW, I am on a 'fixed wireless' ISP - about 3Mbps download, 1.3 Mbps upload, and 79ms Ping. per Speedtest.net - The Global Broadband Speed Test


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Old 02-12-2008, 07:59 PM   #7
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My brother-in-law switched to Vonage and loves it. I checked their website and it looks like it may be a good switch for us. CallVantage is actually more than we pay now for regular phone (limited service plus Caller ID).

We don't use our phone all that much, but we have 5 extensions. Three on the main floor, one upstairs and then another one used only for the DirecTV Tivo, which has to be connected to a phone line.

Our phone line and satellite cable come in at one end of the house, but the computer with the cable modem is at the other end. If we got a Vonage box, or any VOIP, how does it work so that we can still use all of our extensions? At Best Buy they showed me a Vonage box that accomodates 2 extensions. How does one add more extensions?

Or am I misunderstanding how it all gets setup and it's easier than it looks?
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:28 PM   #8
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You disconnect your main phone service at the NIU (the usually gray plastic box on the outside of the house). Its usually a little stub of wire with a regular rj-11 phone jack in it. Once you unplug that, your inside wiring is disconnected from the phone company.

You then plug your VOIP TA directly into one of the in-home wall jacks, and that 'lights up' all the other jacks in the house.

You must unplug the phone company from your in-home network before plugging in the TA or very unhappy things will happen to your TA...

There is also a great degree of sketchiness around getting fax service and modem service, especially tivo's, to work with VOIP. Some products work with some services, some dont. Some require special pre-dialing codes or need to be put into a particular mode to do data calls.
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:47 PM   #9
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You then plug your VOIP TA directly into one of the in-home wall jacks, and that 'lights up' all the other jacks in the house.
Ah, that's the part that I needed to know.

We have very basic needs for the landline. Under 50 local calls a month, most of those being made by the TiVo, we use the long distance service (Acceris 2.9 cents a minute) for maybe $3.00 in calls. And I need Caller ID.

Our AT&T home phone bill is about $27 including taxes, plus the LD bill of $3. Vonage has a Residential Basic 500 minute plan for $14.99 before taxes.

Every little bit counts.
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:40 PM   #10
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I snaggled an at&t online deal for basic service, unlimited long distance, all the call features, yada yada yada for something like $29 or $34 a month for a year, then it went to $48 including all the taxes and stupid fees.

You had to do it online through their site. Maybe there was a referral or a code or something. I'm sure I could wrangle it up if its something you're interested in.

Not as cheap as 24.95 or 29.95, but pretty good for hard line service with pretty minimal call problems, high uptime, no information technology capabilities required, and no aggravation with the modem equipped devices.

IIRC, the old fashioned tivo's can be made to work with most of the VOIP services, but the directv versions are tricky. We've got three directivos yacking on the phone at all hours of the night about who knows what. Sort of like teenagers.
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16 Month Update...AT&T discontinuing CallVantage
Old 05-01-2009, 12:14 PM   #11
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16 Month Update...AT&T discontinuing CallVantage

Well, I've been reasonably happy with this, but a few weeks ago I got a snail-mail letter from AT&T that they are discontinuing CallVantage VOIP this year. Kind of ticked off that I paid ~ $40 in startup fees/taxes that now only get amortized over 16 months. I might beef about that, but I doubt they will do anything. Anybody want a TA box? D-Link DVG-5102S.

I guess I can get a "U-verse" bundle from them - cable, some 'new' VOIP and internet for over a hundred bucks/month, and more after the "intro rate". No thanks, I already have $29 internet, currently pay $25 (with taxes and all) for CallVantage VOIP, and I don't want cable.

We do have a "family plan" with T-Mobile (the two college kids are on it), and T-Mobile has offered a T-Mobile@Home VOIP for $10/month unlimited calls. A friend has it and is happy, so I switched.

Got the combination Telephone adapter and wireless router, so that one box replaced two that I had. Seems good so far, but it does lack a few features CallVantage had (I had it set up to email me with any voice mails that went to the system box). $35 in startup fees.

So over the past 16 months, my phone bill has gone from ~ $37 for very limited land-line (no LD, limited band 'B' - a pain here in N IL with multiple area codes and cell phones registered who-knows-where), down to $25 with CallVantage, and now down to $10 (plus taxes/fees).

I kind of hate being so tied in with one company, if I want to switch my cell phones from T-Mobile, this goes too. TM basically treats it like one more line of a family plan, but with unlimited calls. Nice thing is that now calls to the kids any day/time are "mobile-to-mobile" and are unmetered.

-ERD50
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