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I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 09:00 AM   #1
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I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Well, I knew it would happen eventually. The phone company finally dropped the straw that broke the camel's back on me (see notice below). I can't go without long distance because Bell South (my local carrier) charges me to NOT have long distance. Ok. So I go with AT&T long distance - ANY free, no monthly charge plan will work. Oops - no longer available.

They want $5/month (plus who knows how many extra UCC/FCC/ACC/UFC/NFL fees) just for the privilege to make long distance calls.

That would push the total phone bill up past $32 for the most basic service possible. And I HATE Bellsouth and AT&T (not sure which is worse). I'd much prefer getting phone service through the DMV, IRS, or the post office, as all seem to be more user friendly, efficient, customer service oriented, etc. than the phone co's.

So it's time for Vonage or something similar. The only reason I haven't switched till now was that I'm lazy.

I already have high speed cable internet that is very reliable. I have an extra ethernet port available on my router for the VOIP adapter. I'm fairly conversant in router configurating.

I haven't seen a thread on VOIP/VONAGE lately. Any thoughts on them or other VOIP providers?

I've heard good things about VONAGE, and I plan on signing up for their $15/month plan. 500 outgoing minutes, unlimited incoming minutes, all the bells and whistles. Any tips/tricks to get any more bang for the buck? Anywhere else similarly reliable (quality of phone service/audio signal) for much less?

Cell-phone only isn't an option for me, FYI, unless I find one cheaper than VONAGE with equivalent signal quality and % uptime as compared to Vonage/VOIP.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 09:18 AM   #2
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

We've had vonage for quite some time and are very happy with it. I also went with the $15 plan - with taxes and all and maybe going over the minutes a bit, our bill is usually around twenty bucks or so.

vonage did just lose some patent suit though, which might be something to consider - they say it won't affect customers, but hard to imagine how it can't; the suit basically says they can't do VOIP without infringing on some verizon patent.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4726

Anyway I'd vote go for it presuming the patent thing isn't an issue. I'm quite happy with it.

- John
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 09:23 AM   #3
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by runchman
We've had vonage for quite some time and are very happy with it. I also went with the $15 plan - with taxes and all and maybe going over the minutes a bit, our bill is usually around twenty bucks or so.
Taxes - is this just state/fed sales tax (or whatever they call the tax on phone service)?

They don't pull the ole local telco trick on you do they? Ie - your phone service is only $13/month. Those other $14 you pay every month are "cost recovery fees" and network access fees.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 09:27 AM   #4
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Justin, I've been trying out Vonage for a few months now. Installation and configuration was a snap. I'm impressed with the features for $15 a month. Voice quality has ranged from the low end of fair to very good -- I'm using their wireless phone and have only a mediocre cable connection. I don't have any customer service experience to report because I haven't had any problems. I'm paying $18.72 with fees.

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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 09:44 AM   #5
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

I have been using Sunrocket (199.00 per year), it has been great so far.

unlimited minutes in/out
all taxes included in 199 price
100 free international minutes

also when I signed up I got two free cordless phones, that work great


edit:

Wow just looked at their website and the second year is free! That works out to be less than 9 bucks a month.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 09:53 AM   #6
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

As long as your cable data line never goes out, you're fine.

When it goes out, you lose your phone. It you've never had to deal with a cable internet outage before, you're in for a rude awakening. And if your cable modem acts up, you're in real trouble.

We had to use our cell phones for weeks on end while time-warner tried to figure out the road-runner problem. Turned out that a new line and a new cable modem made the problem go away. During that time, we had no land line. But you might like your cell phone. My DW didn't, nor did her many correspondents.

We're back with POTS.

YMMV



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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 10:12 AM   #7
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

We've had internet outages before a few years back. Tons (caused by on-site contractors repeatedly cutting the BRIGHT ORANGE PAINTED cable cord running near their trench). Time warner was very responsive - usually same day service. We have a back up cell phone just in case. Worst case, we are 5 minutes walking distance to a pay phone - or 20 feet from the neighbor's house.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 10:19 AM   #8
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

The only gripe I've heard is that Vonage is/are real Nazi's when it comes to disconnecting. They give you the runaround to try to get you to stay, don't refund your payments, keep taking automatic payments... that sort of thing. (Customer service sucks). Just anecdotal. I don't have any links, off the top of my head.

Seems like a small price to pay, unless you plan to move often, but I suppose you can just take the hardware with you and plug it in another socket.

-CC
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 10:22 AM   #9
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Vonage customer service improves a lot if you threaten to quit each time. The retention people will cut thru a lot of the red tape the customer service folks put up.

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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 10:47 AM   #10
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Think I've decided to go with Vonage.

Best Buy has a deal through the end of the week where you sign up for 1 year at vonage and get a free phone adapter, plus a $140 mail in rebate. I'll effectively get a year of vonage service for $50 or so. May consider the sunrocket deal (2 years for $200) after that?

For anyone else thinking about switching to Vonage, Circuit city has a similar rebate deal where you make money from buying a vonage adapter.

Does the vonage site have a feature for account holders to view their monthly usages? I'm guessing I'll use less than 500 mins/month, but it would be nice to see the first few months to verify.

Thanks for the help, folks! I'll let you know how it turns out (maybe tonight ). Take that you bastard phone companies
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 10:51 AM   #11
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

What's the difference between Vonage and Skype?

Both ends need the software?

Oh, and how does 911 work on Vonage? I think you just register your physical location with Vonage?

-CC

Edit: Service Cancellation (may not apply, in your case)

Edit: added more info. like Skype URL.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 11:09 AM   #12
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Cell-phone only isn't an option for me, FYI, unless I find one cheaper than VONAGE with equivalent signal quality and % uptime as compared to Vonage/VOIP.
Just curious. Why is cell-phone only not an option? Does this have anything to do with 911?
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 12:21 PM   #13
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

I read the other day that Vonage lost a patent infringement ruling to Verizon which will preclude Vonage from using the current method of delivering VOIP calls to wired phones. Possible death-knell for Vonage?

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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 12:29 PM   #14
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Here are the exact fees from my most recent bill, added on to the 14.99 base:

Regulatory Recovery Fee $0.99
Emergency 911 Cost Recovery $0.99
County 911 Fee $1.25
State Communications Service Tax $1.19
Federal Universal Service Fee $0.92
State Telecom Infrastructure Maintenance Fee $0.08

So my bill ends up at $20.41.

Doesn't sound so bad until you calculate that it is a 36% increase over the base 14.99 amount !

- John
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 12:59 PM   #15
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
Just curious. Why is cell-phone only not an option? Does this have anything to do with 911?
Three reasons I don't want a cell phone as primary phone. 1. cost - much more expensive than $15-20/month for vonage. 2. Poor sound quality ("can you hear me now?"). 3. Have to run around the house to find the cell phone instead of having phones located throughout the house that all ring.

I also don't have a cell. DW has a tracfone with limited minutes for infrequent use.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 01:00 PM   #16
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by runchman
So my bill ends up at $20.41.

Doesn't sound so bad until you calculate that it is a 36% increase over the base 14.99 amount !
Wow - vonage is starting to sound more like the local telco with all those extra fees.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 01:27 PM   #17
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Wow - vonage is starting to sound more like the local telco with all those extra fees.
And I love how they're numbers like 0.99 and 1.19. Am I buying a fast food item or paying a tax?

Fishy. Very fishy. What would Rusty Shackleford say?

-CC
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 02:11 PM   #18
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

I've just about had it with the phone company too. I get static on my line at night. Repair man said could be squirrels bedding down for the night in the connection box on the poles.(not sure of exact name) It cleared up for a couple of weeks after he tinkered with the box but now it has started again.

Maybe I should offer the little devils a nice dinner or rat poison some night.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 02:20 PM   #19
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Well, I knew it would happen eventually. The phone company finally dropped the straw that broke the camel's back on me (see notice below). I can't go without long distance because Bell South (my local carrier) charges me to NOT have long distance. Ok. So I go with AT&T long distance - ANY free, no monthly charge plan will work. Oops - no longer available.
Justin, I got the exact same post card a little while back. I called them up I'm not sure what I did, but I got them to switch me to a rate plan that does not have any sort of minimum monthly fee. I believe the only catch is that I had to commit to a long distance plan that had a ridiculous per minute charge (0.29/min??) I'll try and lookup what plan I'm under when I get home. My local carrier is SBC and I'm in Southern CA.
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?
Old 03-27-2007, 02:34 PM   #20
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Re: I'm done with phone company - time for Vonage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderALot
Justin, I got the exact same post card a little while back. I called them up I'm not sure what I did, but I got them to switch me to a rate plan that does not have any sort of minimum monthly fee. I believe the only catch is that I had to commit to a long distance plan that had a ridiculous per minute charge (0.29/min??) I'll try and lookup what plan I'm under when I get home. My local carrier is SBC and I'm in Southern CA.
I called the phone co. and asked about any rate plans that have no monthly charge or "minimum usage fees". They said none were available. A couple of years ago, I did what you did, and they stuck me in my current plan with a high per-minute charge (no idea what it is since I have never used it).

I seem to have to call up the phone companies at least 3-4 times per year to deal with miscellaneous charges that shouldn't be appearing on my bill or to adjust my plan/service level back to what I originally set it at. I'm at the point now that if I'm going to be spending any more time dealing with a phone company, I'll just turn the telco phone service off, save a few bucks, and go with Vonage. Sounds like an easier way to go.
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