January 1, 2005
Voice Over IP isn’t anything new. It’s been around for ages. But only recently has it been cheap enough for Joe Public to afford using it. I signed up in 02/2004 when I was going to be making lots of long distance phone calls for finding a new job.
For $14.99/month, at the time, I got 500 minutes of long distance within the US and Canada. For an additional $4.99/month, I get a ‘virtual’ phone number based in Toronto, that forwards to Los Angeles free of charge, which is much more convenient for friends and family to call me here.
I did the math - dropping my land-line telephone service with Verizon and DSL and signing up for basic TV cable, cable modem (which was faster than the DSL service) plus the VoIP setup saved me about $20/month.
I have full telephone features such as call waiting, voice mail, and my favorite: call forwarding. For no extra charge, I have my VoIP service forward to my cell phone if I don’t answer the phone at home within 5 seconds. Other than call forwarding, my favorite feature is getting an Email when I have voice mail, which they later added transcription for and an audio file attachment.
Only ‘glitch’ I’ve found (and I hesitate to call it a ‘glitch’) is that Vonage is based in New Jersey - so any other service that says “just call 1-800-WHATEVER and you’ll be connected to a local office” will actually connect me to an office in New England instead of in California.
Update February 2017
13 years later, and several homes later, Vonage is still trucking along on the same hardware I got from them so many years ago. Their service is a lot more expensive now; I think we pay about $45 per month including 800 minutes of talk time and one additional phone number. Quite a price jump, but the service is rock solid.