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Suggestions for a Home VOIP Provider?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the it-beats-two-cans-and-a-string-right dept.

Communications 250

nate1138 asks: "My wife and I recently relocated so that I could take a promising position with a better company. Her job, being the fairly progressive folks that they are, graciously agreed to let her telecommute. Most of the services she needs we already have set up, such as the VPN, and VNC for remote control, etc. Now we only have one thing left to do. Get a phone line. Her office is a long distance call from our new location, and she needs to be able to call customers throughout the southeast as well. Since we need a number with a different area code from our home, it looks like voice over IP is the only solution. I want to know what you folks think about the various VOIP providers, like Packet8, Vonage, and Broadvoice. Or any other that I haven't thought of. Or another way to solve the same problem without shelling out a boatload o' cash. Features are the last priority, while reliability is tops."

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heyheyhey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282765)

tyler hihiihhiihih!!!!laffladsa

Unlimited Long Distance (2, Insightful)

sik0fewl (561285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282773)

Are you sure your phone company doesn't have a package with unlimited in-country or in-state long distance calling?

Re:Unlimited Long Distance (5, Informative)

awehttam (779031) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282816)

Asterisk, X100P "voice modem", NuFone [] for dirty-cheap calling and Vonage [] for North America wide calling.

NuFone is good for outgoing long distance calls. They charge in 15 second increments to many numbers (others are 30 or 60 seconds) and are pretty darned cheap compared to other providers.

I have great luck with Vonage for my local calling (North America, flat rate is like, $45 p/m and gets you all the dandy doodads). I also have Asterisk setup to receive faxes and Email them to me, so far no corrupted pages at all and the bandwidth usage is pretty reasonable.

I have this setup on my Asterisk box (Vonage attaches using an X100P card ($100 from Digium [] for the real-thing, clones have been spotted for cheap including $0.99 but YMMV), NuFone is native IAX).

Cordless phone is attached using a Grandstream [] Ata-286, so I can wonder around the house with a cordless headset whilst talking to who-ever using VoIP.

and don't forget to register your number on [] , for native voip ;)

This is an incumbment free zone

Re:Unlimited Long Distance (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282865)

Vonage is $29/month flat rate for unlimited calls to US and Canada. Sign up a friend and you both get a free month. I have no complaints about the service.

Re:Unlimited Long Distance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282882)

PS. Service also comes with voicemail, called ID, and call waiting.

Road Runner (4, Informative)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282906)

Are you sure your cable company doesn't have a local and LD phone package? [] The majority of my friends and neighbors have switched to road runner's VoIP... and we are all impressed. 911-service, call waiting, caller-id, works through your existing phone lines -- the service is packed with bells and whistles. Give it a shot if you have RR in your area. Davak

Re:Unlimited Long Distance (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282944)

SBC does have unlimited long distance for $30/month, but that's for residential use only. Since it's at home it's a residence line, but it's clearly being used for business. I don't know how they'd police that. Maybe they look at usage patterns, but you definitely don't want to fight them on this.

I'd say for calling into the office, the best bet would be to set up a toll free number that goes to the receptionist or (if you don't have one) to a voice response menu that lets you dial an extension.

For calling customers, you can get a long distance calling card billed to the company or a cell phone with free long distance. It may or may not be cheaper than VoIP, but it saves you hassle because it's billed to the company and you don't have to mess with expense reports.

Re:Unlimited Long Distance (1)

hendersj (720767) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283069)

I'd say for calling into the office, the best bet would be to set up a toll free number that goes to the receptionist or (if you don't have one) to a voice response menu that lets you dial an extension.

This can get really expensive for the company - 800 numbers are not cheap to implement.

Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282774)

Depending on how much time she needs to spend on the phone, cellular might be your best bet. If you have coverage in your current area from someone who sells service in the area whose area code you're looking for, that would probably be the easiest way to get what you need. I'm sure you can still get phones which have good broadcasting power, and you can pick an appropriate antenna, so perhaps you can get coverage already. This will have the added advantage of coming with its own battery backup (unless you need to use an amplifier) and thus being even more reliable than a wired POTS->PSTN phone.

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (4, Interesting)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282799)

i wouldnt go as far as to say cellular is that reliable. Internet bogs down, your VOIP going to have some problems, during peek hours getting a connection to a cell tower is going to be difficult. You throw any type of emergency into the equation cell towers are almost useless since everyone is on their phone. Internet is still a little more reliable there (from what we have seen so far, yet to be proven). I personally still have a POTS at home and plan on staying that way until VOIP has some of the small issues worked out (like what happens when the power goes out, my POTs still works but my VOIP dead in the water.) just my 2 cents worth. (oh and i have a cell phone too which i use for 99% of my communications)

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (0, Offtopic)

EvanED (569694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282812)

"You throw any type of emergency into the equation cell towers are almost useless since everyone is on their phone"

Also, do they have the location-finding features for 911 cell calls implemented yet?

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (2, Informative)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282879)

Also, do they have the location-finding features for 911 cell calls implemented yet?


Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282954)

I don't think they'd be getting rid of their POTS line. They just don't want to run up big long distance bills on their home phone line. Don't need to worry about 911.

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (3, Informative)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283033)

you can always dial 911 on an phone line that gives you a signal (even if y ou dont havea phone contract) and can also dial 911 on any cell phone (as long as the thing works) even if it doesn have a plan.

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282851)

I can't afford both POTS and GSM so I have the GSM. In fact we pay less with two cells now than we did with one cell and one pots. If you have some kind of emergency that affects more than just you, the phone probably isn't going to help you much anyway, you're better off unlimbering the firearms and the food supplies.

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (1)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283047)

no argument that cellular is cheaper, just my line of business i need reliability.

Just also how i have a 3 day supply of food, batteries, and the reliable M4.

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (1)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283090)

We do have cell service, but a minute plan that would cover the usage is gonna be pricey. Not to mention that they tend to get hot when you use it 3+ hours a day.

Re:Do you have cellular coverage in your area? (1)

ziegast (168305) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283121)

Depending on how much time she needs to spend on the phone,

If she needs to spend lots of time on the phone, and if you love her, for goodness sake, get her a headseat or a cell phone with a speakerphone feature.

I have Vonage and I love it (4, Informative)

Lokni (531043) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282775)

I have been with Vonage for 6 months now and have had no problems. I have 4 lines through them with no problems at all, including fax. It also cut my phone bill by about 1/2 because all of the long distance calls I made are all now included.

Check for Vonage reviews (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282829)

Just adding my support for Vonage. If reliability and sound quality are important to you there really isn't any other option. Installation was easy: plug the modem in and connect it to my router and I had service in about 5 minutes. I don't know if their tech support is any good though because in about 6 months of usage I've never had to call them. They also have 911 service.

The only bad thing I've heard about Vonage is that it can take a long time if you want to transfer your current phone number to vonage. Check [] for more Vonage reviews

Re:Check for Vonage reviews (4, Informative)

astar (203020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283083)

My experience with vonage is that they have really pretty good customer service.

There is one exchange, a rural phone company, that I call and sometime have problems getting through.

Vonage voice quality is good for me, if I put their modem directly on my isp modem. The trick seems to be that they give priority to their traffic over your computer traffic. You could probably get the same effect behind a firewall, if the firewall was sophisticated and you could arrange to prioritize packets. Try openbsd.

I certainally like all the bells and whistles. But I keep a POTS too.

Notice though that their recommended setup puts your firewall in as a dchp client. If you are lucky enough to have static ips, then this might make you think a bit. The parent poster just hung it off the router so the modem quality of service attributes do not come into play. This in my experience reduces call quality sometimes, depending on the computer traffic.

Re:I have Vonage and I love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282969)

I've had great luck with Vonage too.

heyheyhey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282777)

tyler is cool!!!!!!

Or.... (3, Insightful)

TastyWords (640141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282779)

a cell phone? I cancelled long-distance service for my landline because I had no use for it. Sure, if I use it it'll cost me an arm & a leg, but the only thing I use the landline for is to write a phone number down on receipts & whatnot as I've got a machine on it to collect messages. I have plenty of friends who don't even have a landline any more, preferring to select the best plan from the various cell vendors - especially now that you can keep the same number forever.

Re:Or.... (1)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282850)

Um the poster needs the phone line for business and long distance.

Air time and long distance charges would be very expensive on most plans. Some providers have good long distance but I think the air time would kill this idea.

Re:Or.... (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282999)

Sure, if you get the $40 a month plan and go over they'll rape you on the airtime charges. If you know you'll be calling a lot, just get a plan with plenty of minutes. Could you really talk more than 2000 daytime minutes a month (about what you get with the $99 a month plan)? Remember, 4 x 40hr workweeks is 9600 minutes. All the wireless carriers have free domestic long distance or offer it for a small fee like $5 a month.

Re:Or.... (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282856)

I don't see how people can really do that though. In my house I have 5 phones in various rooms and on various floors so if it rings I can pick it up fairly easily. Do you just carry your cell phone with you wherever you go in the house? That seems like a pain in the ass.

Re:Or.... (2, Informative)

matth (22742) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282939)

I carry my cell with me everywhere.

As far as Vonage goes.. if you DO NOT I repeat DO NOT have POTS service you can backfeed the vonage analog signal into your home telephone network and get service to phones in any room.

Re:Or.... (2, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283001)

You're one of those people that brings your cell phone to work with the ringer volume cranked all the way up, and then leaves your phone on your desk while you go to lunch, aren't you?

I use Vonage at a colo where there's no cell service (underground, surrounded by metal, isn't good for reception), but I use my cell everywhere else.

I'm reachable 24/7, which means it goes near my bed at night, and on my hip or on my desk the rest of the time. The only time it gets shut off is when I'm on airplanes, and even then it's in my laptop bag at my feet.

The only place I may not carry it, and definately won't talk on it, is in the bathroom.

Pain in the ass? Not really. It's near by, like my wallet (and beer after work).1

Reliability (4, Informative)

papasui (567265) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282780)

Since you say that reliability is your top priority I'd recommend a dedicated VOIP service provided by a cable company if available. They are required to offer the same level of service as a phone company, and also included life line support. While Vonage, Packet8, and the like are all excellent services, they are only as good and as reliable as your existing internet connection.

Re:Reliability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282803)

comcast will be coming out with VOIP soon. and most likely all othr major services will follow in suit

Re:Reliability (1)

NewNole2001 (717720) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282904)

Yeah, but the fuckers(Comcast) will charge twice as much as anyone else, offer half the service level and quality. I can't fucking stand Comcast.

Re:Reliability (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283022)

> they are only as good and as reliable as your
> existing internet connection

Good point. It does make it a bit harder to call for support on your Internet service, if your phone works over it too. :)

Vonage (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282781)

We bought a Vonage phone to put in one of our colo's, because we didn't want to wait for the local telco provider to hook us up.

A friend of mine bought one for home, and now doesn't have a traditional wired phone at all.

Another guy who has space in one of the colo's we're in also has a Vonage phone, and has the additional service to let him use his laptop as a phone, with a little headset plugged into his mic and headphone jacks. He's very satisfied also.

So, out of 3 people I know that have it, all of us like it.

The only part I don't really like is that the Motorola router/adapter box takes a long time to boot (up to 5 minutes). But since I don't move it very often, that's not really a problem.

Vonage (4, Informative)

div_2n (525075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282784)

Vonage seems to work well so long as your connection is good. Being able to listen to your voicemail either on a phone or online is really neat.

My experience is that tech support takes FOREVER to get someone on the line if you have trouble. When I say forever, I am talking about 45 minutes plus.

Other than that, it is great.

Re:Vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282857)

So what trouble did you have that brought you to tech support in the first place?

Opposite experience (1)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283018)

We've called them twice and have never been on hold longer than 5 minutes. We have had our Vonage service for almost 2 years now and have been completely satisfied with it. And even better, they lowered the price.. twice! :-D

Linspire (2, Informative)

lakeland (218447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282786)

The Linspire (Lindows) folks have quite a nice one called sipphone [] . I particularly like how you can plug your ordinary phone in. They're a fairly new player so currently low prices may not last.

Vonage Rules! (1)

whizkid042 (515649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282797)

I've had Vonage now for nearly a year and have had absolutely no troubles with it. In my experience, it is very reliable. The only times it acts up is when I am doing lots of traffic upstream on my cable modem. And then it just sounds choppy. (Of course, this is to be expected.)

Other than that, the only times that I ever lose phone service is when the power goes out. Not a big issue for me, since I live in the village and have lots of neighbors with regular phones. So, if an emergency did ever arise, I could simply run nextdoor and call for help.

Re:Vonage Rules! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9283114)

What about when there's a fire that melts your cables first, then you can't go downstairs to exit the house?

My VoIP experience (2, Informative)

TechGladiator (741686) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282798)

I can tell you that I have used Vonage over the Optimun Online cable service and I was happy with it. My only problem (which is why I eventually canceled my service) was with my ISP, I would be in the middle of a phone call and the call would drop for no reason. I loved the quality of the service, easy to install and the price was right. Once Verizon (My local provider) came out with a flat rate phone service $49/month for unlimited local and long distance (within the US) I switched to them since a regular phone line in my opinion was more reliable than the VoIP solution. Another thing to consider is the fact that if you wife is going to be doing heavy downloading while talking on the VoIP network it will affect your sound quality as well, or at least that was my experience with it. Of course, I was getting speeds of 500+Kb/s on multiple downloads. But I didnt feel like cancelling the downloads when receiving a phone call or when I wanted to make one.. Hope this helps you in your decission.

Re:My VoIP experience (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282828)

I must admit I've never really looked into VOIP, I'm just following from the sidelines. I've never thought about that downloading issue you talked about. Interesting.

That said, I would think it would be easy to handle with a simple Linux router (or any other that would allow you) to give VOIP traffic priority over everything else. Whatever is left of your bandwidth after the VOIP packets, goes to other stuff. This wouldn't be that hard to do, would it?

Re:My VoIP experience (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282891)

No, it isn't that hard. In fact, when I was investigating Vonage I noticed they already sell a device that does QoS and sits between your cable/dsl modem and your internal router so it can control traffic. VoIP really requires QoS for reliable connectivity.

Voicepulse? Nufone? But definitely not Vonage. (1)

SSpade (549608) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282800)

Well, I was just spammed advertising Vonage not more than an hour ago, so they're definitely out.

Voicepulse [] or for the true geek Voicepulse Connect [] are well worth a look.

I've also heard good things about nufone

But test carefully before relying on it. For business use voice quality is pretty important and VoIP is at the "about as good as POTS" level, which might be acceptable or might not, depending on how sensitive you are to the difference in sound distortion between consumer grade VoIP and consumer grade POTS.

I get _alot_ of spam, but nothing from Vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9283149)

Well, I did once. And I called up a friend of mine, and they had filled out the "refer a friend" item so they could get a month off. So, I called up the friend and bitched them out for hading out my email...

But seriously, I've had them for about 2y, and my monthly price has gone from about $80 through three price decreases down to $30... without me asking them to "adjust" my account price.

On the down side:
(a) technical support sucked about 9 months
ago (I don't know if it is better now),
but it rocked about 18 months ago. I think
they just didn't anticipate the demand...
(b) quality of connection depends upon the
cable/dsl service you have. If your pages
are a bit "choppy" when you download, you
can bet vonage will also be choppy. It's
not their fault, but something to be keen
aware of.

Just remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282805)

VOIP will still hit you hard if the power goes out, or if there are issues with your ISP.

I'd suggest wireless, or if you're here in the SE servived by Bellsouth, you can get unlimited long distance for like $29 a month.

Good luck!

Packet 8 (1)

christooley (215314) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282806)

I have Packet 8 service at home and love it. I have VoicePulse Connect at the office and that's more flexible. Packet 8 has failed once but it was a matter of minutes to end the outage.

Re:Packet 8 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282838)

Packet8 billed me for another month two days after I cancelled. I have a great internet connection, but given a choice, I ended up using my phone line rather than hear my boss say yet again, "wh. ..sloc with as.. ok?"

Roll Your Own? (3, Insightful)

squidgyhead (613865) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282810)

I was thinking about this problem myself when I was living in S. Korea and wanted to call home to Canada.

It seems like the best way to do it (and cheapest) would be to call from your computer over the internet to a computer in the city you wanted to call to, which would then hook up to the regular phone line via a modem. I was looking for something like this, but haven't found anything on freshmeat, etc. (Any links out there?)

It seems quite possible. You tell the computer what local number you want, it dials it, and then just acts as a gateway between you (on the internet) and the person you're talking to (on a normal phone line). Nothing too complicated. If you get the reliability up, this might be your best bet.

Re:Roll Your Own? (1)

sinrakin (782827) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282859)

Sure, this is very easy, especially if you're willing to call from your computer using a headset. I use the free X-lite client from, and You can buy time in $10 increments, and call any sip phone in the world for free, or any POTS phone (normal telephone) for between three cents a minute in the US/Canada, to a max of I think six cents a minute for China.

Or you can buy a box that attaches to your router or cable modem and does the same thing, but has an actual telephone attached to it rather than using an application on your PC.

Re:Roll Your Own? (1)

rec9140 (732463) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283181)

I too would also like suggestions on stand alone boxes that can meet a similar need.


p2p Peer to Peer support
T.38 fax upto 14.4K w/ECM
NAT Traversal or NAT compat.
Remote configureable & manageable
Encryption of the VOIP stream via AES, DES, Blowfish would be a major plus, but not required.

Intergrate with FWD etc. so that each site could have its own private VOIP #, a FWD # if desired

Ability to VOIP into the remote device enter a code, enter password and dial out on local POTS

Reverse of the above POTS to any of the networks VOIP sites

Intelligent routing so as to have it VOIP to a remote site and connect the call via the local POTS as it would be a local call at that site. A device which could sit behind the NID for POTS and intergrate all the phones at that site so that dialing 7 digits went local POTS, 10 digits went via VOIP if in routing table to a remote site to dial out local POTS call. 10 digits if not routable went to POTS LD. All with little or no user intervention.

Automatic fowarding of inbound POTS from any site to any selected site. selectable on/off, remote controllable.

Slow speed link codec (G.711) support to at least 128K ISDN and 802.11b & a wifi connections

Ability to intergrate POTS and VOIP via the device or a IP phone into a seamless network. A IP phone would have 2 or more "lines" which line 1 may be POTS, line 2 private VOIP, line 3 FWD etc..

Asterik may suited to this, but at this time I have sites which are not user friendly to having a PC running * 24/7 where as a simple little box to interface with the broadband modem, router, ups etc. in a closet is no problem. Especially since some of these sites could have 0 people present for 5-6 months at a time, but need the VOIP to POTS to VOIP to work with out user intervention.

Which also leads to . . .

Can the voice ports off a Cisco ubr924/925 be used with some standalone H.323 device to roll your own mini VOIP setup or does it require a Cisco server of some sort to operate those ports.

Rokbom is an excellent VOIP provider (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282813)

I've used Rokbom [] for a few months and couldn't be happier. It's half the cost of Vonage and every bit as good. Even though it's just getting started, it's expanding rapidly, so chances are you can get Rokbom.

Re:Rokbom is an excellent VOIP provider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282962)

You're right about it expanding rapidly!

ipp fone from (2, Informative)

kupojsin (681728) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282822)

you should definitely get this this device allows you to used in pairs allows you to call each other through the internet and then use the ipp at you office to make local calls from that numbers area code

Re:ipp fone from (1)

HugheJanis (745958) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283089)

Look for the internet phone patch device, $199 Also join fwd, they offer free domestic from time to time.

Packet8 information... (4, Informative)

Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282823)

I use packet8 for my sole "landline." It cost me something like $20 or so which included a free DTA, with the first month free BUT you have to use a referral code to get this deal. (I think I used SAM, but I can't remember -- you can just Google for "referral code packet8" and I'm sure you'll find dozens.)

The $20 a month gave me unlimited calls anywhere in quote-unquote North America (step back Mexico - you're not part of North America anymore, the phone companies have deleted you.) Of course you can use the phone anywhere in the world, but you can only call Canada and the US for free with the $20 plan. But even the long distance rates are very reasonable -- for me to phone Norway is only something like 2 cents a minute.

The problem with the phone isn't the service, or which VOIP provider to choose -- it's the internet connection it's running on. If you're internet connection has a few hiccups here and there, or if you're just physically far away, your QOS will be shot. I recommend posting a follow up question of "Which ISP is best for VOIP?" Latency is a big issue, of course. Even some of the ISP's route occasionally via satellite, and that's just great for VOIP connections (great for VOIP connections... what? ...connections... bzzzzzzzzzt... what? Hello? Son of a ...!)

My conclusion is: it's okay, and it's a cheap phone. There are some sacrifices. And Packet8 is loads cheaper than Vonage and includes free equipment, or at least used to. Plus you don't have to deal with the bastards at the phone company anymore, which makes any sacrifice worth it! Hurray! But for $20 a month and no long distance, go for it, just use the referral code to save being screwed on "installation." If you just want to try it for a while, try Free World Dialup until you're comfortable -- although that's a lot more complicated to set up versus a ready to run system like Packet8 or Vonage. Good luck.

Depending on where you live... (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282831)

If you're in their service area, you might check
out FeatureTel [] . AFAIK, they only service the Raleigh / RTP / Durham / Chapel Hill area of NC right now.

Also, in at least some areas, Time Warner Cable is now offering home VOIP service. So if you're in the TWC area, you might give them a call.

Keep in mind the virtual numbers as well (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282834)

With the telecomute aspects of the position, its important to remember that there are two sides to the phone expense equation. Not only do you want to minimize your own expenses - but you do not want to show up as an extra expense in the office in cases when people want to phone you.

To get around the situation, a virtual phone number that is local to the office is a great (and inexpensive way) to eliminate any costs associated with someone from the office phoning you at home.

As for providers, I just signed up with Vonage a week or so ago and have no complaints so far.

Re:Keep in mind the virtual numbers as well (2, Insightful)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283049)

but you do not want to show up as an extra expense in the office in cases when people want to phone you

That's exactly why we are looking into Packet8/Vonage/etc. We need to have a local number that her office can call or transfer calls to without running up their bill. It looks like the ISP is pretty reliable, so that won't be a big issue (we hope, anyway).

Whats required for vonage like services? (2, Insightful)

thogard (43403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282835)

I make too many calls to the US from Australia and I've heard tht you need 200ms pings. I can get 150ms pings to some places in San Jose but typical ping times are 220 to 250 ms for random places in the US. What I'm looking for is where are the gateways located? What are their unoffical rules about getting connections that aren't from the US? How much does the adapter cost and how much does it cost me if I bail out of their serivce in the 1st month?

Re:Whats required for vonage like services? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282986)

If you want to use voip for out-going calls only, you don't need to use Vonage. You can use something like iconnecthere [] or as someone else mentioned sipphone [] . They both have a software phone and low pay-as-you-go rates so you can try them out with very little investment. I use iconnecthere, it's not the greatest but it gets the job done. I may try sipphone soon.

Go old fashioned, (1, Troll)

elnoble (652859) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282844)

Use a ham radio. 20 meters is usually open this time of the solar cycle, and when sunspots start to dwindle just move on down to the 'ol 40. Hell, if you can handle 300 baud, you can even do VOIP over tcp/ip over radio, genius!

Same situation and I use Sprint (2, Informative)

death_cheese (746746) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282845)

I am in the same situation. I moved from AZ to WA but I am still employed by a company in AZ. I am a software developer and I work from my home. My wife is a graphic designer who has lots of clients in AZ.

We have a Sprint cell phone with an AZ number. Because we are Sprint wireless customers, we were offered a $15 a month, all-you-can-eat long distance plan for our home phone. That allows me to call my company's office to talk with coworkers.

It works out pretty well.

Re:Same situation and I use Sprint (2, Insightful)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283128)

why isn't your company routing your calls through their PBX using a VPN? I fail to understand all these comments about private phone solutions. If they're letting her work VO they need to support her and give her the ability to route calls through the company PBX

DSLReports (4, Informative)

Cbs228 (596164) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282852) [] maintains a forum for VoIP providers as well as numerous reviews of Vonage [] , Packet8 [] , and lots of others [] .

Unlimited Plan (2, Interesting)

NetDudeFL (10362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282860)

A coworker had vonage...Almost got me to switch too, but then he started complaining about latency issues..etc.

I have had MCI "Neighborhood" program ( for almost a year now. $49 gets me unlimited local and long distance service. Sign up under the Blockbuster promotion and you get a certificate for free game or movie rental for every $25 (so I get 2 per month). I have never had a problem with the service and it is chock full of features including the ability to listen to voice mail over the Internet and getting alerted to my pager, cellphone and/or e-mail when someone leaves a message!

Vonage Is Cool (5, Informative)

mirio (225059) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282870)

I've been a Vonage customer for about 5 months now. My wife and I ditched our POTS because we realized it was costing us $34/month for absolutely no services (this was with Bellsouth). We decided to transfer our POTS number over to Vonage. Unfortunately, the old telco's like to rape customers by holding on to phone numbers for as long as possible (basically, the longer they hold your number, the longer you have to pay them). Bellsouth finally transferred my number to Vonage after about 90 days (bastards).

We haven't regretted switching ONCE. We use the lowest call quality setting and can't even notice a difference. We have a cheapest plane they offer ($14.99 for 500 local/long distance minutes / *every* feature they offer including caller id, voicemail, etc).

Perhaps our favorite feature is the web interface for doing everything. I mean, really...have you ever tried to set up your POTS line for forwarding? The web interface makes it very, very simple and there's no need to reference a manual.

I would recommend Vonage in a heartbeat. Perhaps the poster's wife could just ditch her traditional land line, get Vonage, and use Vonage's "virtual phone number" feature to get a local number in her office's area code.

DSL? (3, Interesting)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282888)

I have a related question... Can you keep DSL and sign up for one of these providers? Will *insert local bell or SBC* let you have a line without service?

Re:DSL? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283042)

Yes. I have had DSL without POTS in the past. Now I have Cable without Cable TV, and I don't have POTS any more, I have GSM1900 from T-Mobile which has turned out to be quite a decent provider since everyone has been putting up GSM1900 and I have no roaming charges. I still don't get the kind of coverage that, say, AT&T dual-mode customers get, but they pay twice as much as I do, and I'm guessing their phones cost more as well.

In any case, you can definitely have DSL without POTS, at least from SBC/Pacbell.

Re:DSL? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9283104)

Yes and no.

You can keep your DSL, but you must continue to "pay" for a phone line. You can drop the phone service down to the minimum package. Some states/carriers allow you to have a "911 only" line that costs $10-$20 per month.

There are two carriers that offer so-called "naked" DSL. Don't believe it. Qwest charges you the $10 for the phone line on top of their regular DSL price. Then, they sell it to you as "stand-alone" DSL. They turn off dial tone so you don't know you have phone service... but go ahead and dial 911. See what happens. Same with Verizon, and Verizon only gives you this "naked" DSL offer if you are dropping their local phone service to go wireless.

Either way, you'll be paying for the phone line. It makes more sense to do VoIP over a cable broadband connection, if you really want to drop the "copper" landline charge.

But, then you have to share bandwidth... and wouldn't it suck if the neighbor kid was downloading huge files while you're trying to talk on the phone.

Oh, one more thing... someone mentioned that cable companies are required to have 911 service. They are NOT required to have traditional 911 service. Cablevision 911 works more like Vonage 911 than like POTS 911. The emergency services operator doesn't have your pre-populated name and address info (also like e-911 from your cell). You have to tell them who and where you are - they can't find you otherwise. Kind of tough to give that info if you're 5. But, if you don't have kids, it's not that big of a deal.

Re:DSL? (1)

renehollan (138013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283197)

I had DSL without POTS when living in Allan, TX.

I was too far for "normal" DSL service piggybacked over a POTS line (something like 14 kft.), but there was one provider that was willing to provision DSL over a second dry pair from the CO and pass on the dry pair costs without markup. Worked great, though the $15/month for the dry pair made my DSL bill around $80 a month.

Sadly, I can't remember with certainty the provider I had used.... Internet America, I think.

Re:DSL? (1)

wpc4 (169892) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283211)

Not usually, although I believe it was Verizon or SBC that was offering DSL without having to have a phone line, to be more competitive to cable internet.

Why not just a dedicated VOIP connection? (1)

DarthBart (640519) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282898)

Put a box at the office that has the appropriate port to plug into the phone switch there (if there is one). Get a VOIP phone at home and peer it up there.

AT&T Voice over IP (1)

rchatterjee (211000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282909)

AT&T also offers a VoIP service called AT&T CallVantage [] . I haven't tried them myself but it might be worth looking into.

had packet8 for a while (2, Informative)

larsu (473425) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282910)

I switched from MCI state unlimited to packet8 for a few months. I had some latency problems with packet8. I could deal with it, but my wife could not. So we ended up upgrading our cell phone plan, and ditching a separate home phone altogether.

A router with QoS helped a lot. There was a noticable difference after a did prioritization with OpenBSD's pf.

Vonage rules...for me, anyway (1)

FrenchyinCT (733872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282914)

I've been using Vonage since late July last year, and have been, for the most part, happy with was a rocky start, for sure. It was good for about three weeks, then the Great Blackout hit, and my service was very spotty for about the next month (well, a lot of viruses & worms going around probably didn't help much either). Since then, it's gone out a few times here and there but the service is *much* improved. I have no issues with hearing the people I'm talking to. And the international rates are awesome! That was the main reason why I switched...when I joined it was .05/min to call most places in Western Europe, and now it's only .03/min (they simply lowered my rate when the time came.) They also gave me a better plan for the same monthly charge I've been paying without making me sign a contract or anything. I also like calling Canada and the Lower 48 for free, phone bills are much improved over my landline. Although I did keep my landline...I bumped it back to a measured line. I would strongly urge you to have some sort of backup account regardless of which VOIP service you go with - and before you say, "I have a cellphone," just remember that cell service got knocked out during the blackout.

I am not affiliated with Vonage in any way, BTW...I'm just a happy customer.

If reliability is tops, you may not want VoIP (2, Interesting)

Alrescha (50745) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282915)

I have no wired phone line. I use VoIP as my primary phone and a cell phone as a backup. That said, I am not aware that any VoIP provider meets the same level of reliability as a POTS line.

My own requirement was that my VoIP provider support my choice in SIP devices. That eliminated several of the vendors on your list as they require use of a Cisco-ATA and lock you out of it. I wanted a more 'open' service. I currently use IConnectHere. For $8.95/mo they provide unlimited incoming calls, Caller-ID, Voicemail, Call-Waiting, Call-Transfer, etc. Outgoing calls cost 3.5 cents/minute.

Addaline ( has recently started offering DID service and has a very economical outgoing rate.


Verizon "all you can eat" landline (2, Informative)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282922)

I don't know if this is available to you or not. I live in Maryland and I have Verizon's $49/month plan that gives me:

Local calling

Unlimited Long Distance (US only)

Caller ID

Three-way Calling

Voice Mail

Call Forwarding

other misc stuff

I've had it for about five months and I can attest that my phone bill does not vary. No surprises.

I hope this is of some value to you and I wish you luck with your move and your new ventures.

Happy Trails!


Verizon sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9283007)

Anything you get will be better than Verizon. My home line went down twice last month and every time incompetent morons required someone to be home while they "fix" it.

Reliability not there yet (1)

eison (56778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282923)

Twice so far incoming calls to my Vonage number mysteriously stopped working. E-mails were able to quickly restore service in both cases, but it was still annoying. Once my international calling stopped working. One phone call, a knowledgeable tech did something and had me reset my phone, and then it was working again.

In short, it's similar to a cell phone - huge benefits vs. landlines, but the perfect reliability just isn't there yet. I would expect to lose a day or two of phone service each year. This may be acceptable to you, it is to me. If it isn't, stick with a landline.

MCK Extenders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9282934)

MCK Communications, part of Verso, makes PBX phone extenders. Very economical, works well and will extend your office phone to anywhere in the world. That way, your wife can work as if she is in the office.

Which VOIP works with Asterisk PBX? (1)

jwieland (81762) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282946)

While we are own this subject of VOIP services. I would like to find one the plugs seemlessly into asterisk [] [].

I do not like the idea going from digital signal through VOIP convert to analog for asterisk then it converts back to digital.

I would like to stay digital all the way. Asterisk can handle ADSI, SIP and H.323. Vonage I think uses a property version of SIP, which is sucky. Anyone have anyluck integrating the two?

Check out "VoicePulse Connect!" (1)

Rescate (688702) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283140)

You might want to check out VoicePulse [] . They have a program called VoicePulse Connect! [] that is for people who just need a SIP and IAX connection.

They have some setup information for Asterisk [] in their knowledge base, you might want to check that out. Not sure if this is exactly what you need, but it might be worth a look.

VoIP Comparison (5, Informative)

curufin (697683) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282947)

I found this [] site to be very helpful in choosing a provider.

I recently signed up for Packet8's VoIP service, and have been very happy with it.

I would suggest that you read each provider's fine print, as some of them specifically telecommuters from their residential plans, and if they find out that you have been using a residential plan for telecommuting, will charge you the commercial rate for all previous months you've been subscribed.

How to do it with POTS. (2, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282958)

You MAY find that it's not necessary to go fancy (though the geek factor is great and the price may be lower). You can also get service from the tellcos. And it MAY no longer cost an arm and a leg, thanks to competition from the geek-factor technologies.

First option is a "Foreign Exchange" line. Phone at your home office, connected to a switchboard in the city of interest (transparently, via the long-distance infrastructure).

This USED to cost an arm and a leg (or have a large per-minute charge) because it potentially tied up a long distance trunk any time you were off-hook, and a business might be off-hook essentially all day. But now that bandwidth is cheaper than air it might be another story. (Worth a look.)

Second option is to install a phone with call-forwarding and a dirt-cheap flat rate long-distance service, with the jack installed somewhere handy in the distant service area. (If you do business there but don't have an office, you can probably talk someone into letting the jack be at their site.) Set the call-forwarding to your home-office phone, and unplug the distant instrument. People call you, it transfers to your home-office phone. You pay the long distance charge for the call - which is prepaid or nearly free.

Third: Some tellcos have a service (I don't recall what it's called) that is essentially equivalent to number two but without the line to the unplugged phone. (Check with the long-distance providers, too, not just the local tellcos.) Local tellcos might still price this one sky high, but I bet the long-distance companies have a deal on it.

If you enquire about number three, it's too pricey, but number two would do the job in your price range, be SURE not to talk about them both in the same call to the tellco in question. B-)

callvantage (1)

savetz (201597) | more than 10 years ago | (#9282989)

I'm reviewing a bunch of VOIP services for a computer magazine. I've tested five so far, and as far as sound quality goes AT&T CallVantage has been noticeably better than the others. No noticeable latency, which is more than I can say for some of the other services. I suspect it's because voice traffic spends relatively little time on the Internet before getting punted to AT&T's long distance network. However AT&T's service was a bit more difficult to configure -- I needed to use their router instead of my own firewall/router, which I found perturbing.

about the phone line (1)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283000)

Would they let her make calls on their lines under ordinary circumstances? If so, get a static IP, a pair of VOIP boxen and DIY. I have a pair of Multitech [] boxen between my place and work, and I through my DSL I can do anything I could there--make local and LD calls on their lines, and make intercom calls and pages, etc... You'll need some helpful phone guys to wire it into their PBX, but it's worth a look, and not all that expensive.

I am not a Multitech droid, I just use their boxen.

For Canada? (1)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283013)

Telus appears to be a pretty good VoIP Provider.
Check out their website, they even include it in with a rather promising DSL service. Tho which im sure requires a regular phone line - heh.

praise for vonage (1)

sloshr (608388) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283027)

I've been a vonage customer for a bit over 6 months. The service is reliable, we've never had an outage that I'm aware of. You must have a reliable broadband connection - when I'm doing either a lot of downloading or uploading, the service degrades tremendously. They just dropped prices on the unlimited plan, I'm sure to compete with the bundled deals the phone companies are coming out with. I recommend them as long as you're not someone who's going to saturate your broadband connection with other traffic.

Vonage has been great (1)

akshahidi (747251) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283051)

I've been with Vonage for several months now and I must say that the voice quality has been great, and I have not had any down time or disconnects.

In addition, they have excellent customer support. They are polite and actually trouble shoot problems. I could not call Iran through Vonage even though their website stated that I could. I called their tech support and they resolved the issue is a short period of time. They both e-mailed me and called me to let me know that the issue has been resolved as opposed to just closing the case once it had been fixed.

Basically they actually try to attend to their customers'needs and try to keep them happy.

Foreign Exchange (1)

cjwl (776049) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283054)

It is possible to have a phone number for another area code run to your home, it's called a Foreign Exchange. They have a one time setup cost, and then some monthly maintenance fee. I have no idea what the cost is these days, but 11 years ago I paid $400 to have one run from my rural home so that I could make local calls to an ISP. It was much cheaper than paying long distance 24x7 to be on the internet.

Like I said, I have no idea what they cost, but it might be worth looking into, phone rates are much different than they were 11 years ago.

You will most likely need to talk to a well informed phone company support person (i.e. supervisor), probably in the business services dept., to get one of these installed. Most of the regular grunts have no idea how to order one for you.

Ultracheap VoIP-based calling card (MA, RI, NH) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9283097)

If you already have a landline and live in MA, RI, or NH, you can avoid the hassles of a VoIP phone by using a super-cheap VoIP-based calling card from RNKTel:

$10/3000 minutes to USA and Canada, with NO connection/maintenance fees if you use a local access number. I have been using them a couple years and always wondered how they did it at that price--recently went to the corporate homepage at and noticed they now call themselves New England's #1 VoIP provider. for the cheap north american cards. for supercheap long distance to other countries (1c/min to Oz/NZ, Japan, HK, China, most of Europe...)

I found Vonage neat, but with limitations (2, Informative)

leftism11 (177941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283103)

I have had Vonage for 6 months and just cancelled today.

Very cool concept, and I'm a big fan of the company. Great product offering, great customer service, and super convenient in many respects.

But, I discovered a few limitations, and eventually decided that I just didn't need the service anymore.

The latency was a big problem for me. The latency for calls when using Vonage on my cable Internet connection (Cox in So. Cal.) was typically almost 1 second. I estimate that because I could hear the slight echo when the signal finally made it to the other end of the call, and because my friends would ask me what was wrong with my phone. After a few frustrating business calls, I stopped using it for important phone calls and only used it for a few evening calls to friends that were willing to tolerate the latency that reminded me of an international call. The actual quality of the sound was fantastic--no gripes there, but when you are stepping over the sentences of the other person constantly and having to wait for one another to finish sentences, it became very frustrating. I literally used my cell phone with 50% signal strength for important calls, since it had very little latency compared to Vonage on my Internet connection.

I did not tried Vonage on my DSL service at my new residence (due to wiring issues mentioned below), so unfortunately I can't offer a comparison of cable vs. DSL in terms of the latency. (And yes, I followed all of their tech support recommendations and opened up the swath of ports that they recommend to incoming traffic.)

The second issue that I had is that the phone must effectively be located next to the Internet connection (cable/dsl modem/router, etc.). You either have to run an Ethernet cable if you want to locate the Vonage device and phone elsewhere, or you have to run a long phone cord if you want to locate the phone elsewhere. Maybe there is some means of routing the signal into the copper wiring in the house, but I wasn't going to bother. My cordless phone crapped out, so I just gave up. My new location offers the huge benefit of actually having solid cell signal, so I now rely exclusively on my cell, and had no need for Vonage.

But, I give them tremendous credit for a great product (for those that can get acceptable call latency/quality) with a ton of features for an amazingly economical price.

Reliability? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283108)

> Features are the last priority, while reliability
> is tops.

That rules out anything involving the Net.

Why do we need another adapter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9283109)

Why do we need to buy an expensive adapter to hook a telephone into a voip network?

What prevents us from plugging telephones into our now unused modems?

Company IP Telephony (IP Agent) (1)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283116)

What sort of PBX does the company have? Using a VPN she could connect back to the company PBX and route all calls through there. For example, with a Definity PBX she could use IP Agent and everything from her end would be a local call. I do it all the time.

My Vonage Experience, The Conclusion (2, Informative)

philipsblows (180703) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283117)

I first wrote about my Vonage experiences here on [] and at the time I had basically put them on probation. I fear I've given away the ending of my story in the subject line, but read on anyway.

Since then, I found that I was experiencing really bad echo on certain incoming calls, even when those calls were forwarded from my Vonage phone to my cell phone. I was asked each time I tried to add more detail (by a new tech support person each time who never bothered to read through my issue history) whether my internet connection had enough bandwidth or my phone wiring had been tested... after the second time answer the same questions, I gave up. From then on, I would file additional customer care reports on the echo, from what phone numbers I was getting the most echo for incoming calls, how outgoing calls had no echo, etc. It became a major waste of time, and the fact that Vonage refused to acknowledge that they might have problems in their PSTN-to-VOIP bridges in certain exchanges, choosing instead to pass it off on my own house wiring or internet connection after both of those were eliminated as sources of trouble early on was quite telling.

When my local phone company (Qwest) offered to switch me back for free with 2 months of free service on top of that, I took them up on it. Yes, I went back to Qwest, which is a major indicator. I had the virtual number feature, with a second line in an out-of-state area code, so I asked on the phone of a customer care rep at Vonage if my virtual number could become my primary number once the switch took place, and he assured me verbally that that was no problem.

I'll let you, reader, guess what happened. Hint: if it isn't in writing it isn't true. Especially at Vonage.

I've cancelled my Vonage service. Aside from the nice voicemail features and the useful forwarding feature, and the reasonably-low price, I found the quality of service, the quality of their technical support personnel, the startup process, and the experience on the whole to be a major disappointment. I consider myself to be an early adopter (and I've been in the tech hardware and software business for a while myself), so I was willing to cut Vonage a lot of slack early on with the stumbles and the snafus, and they took all of that slack and then some.

BTW, I would suggest a service provider that doesn't lock you out of your own ATA device. Vonage prevents you from doing much of anything that they don't approve of, which is a major minus on top of their low-grade service.

AT&T All You Can Eat for $25 a month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9283136)

AT&T has this great deal: $25 a month, call as much as you like, and it covers every phone number at the same billing address. Yeah, that's right.

I switched from Verizon because they force you to pay for each phone number, whereas AT&T has the flat rate.

Don't fuck around with shitty quality, no security, and dependence on broadband. Not for $25 a month.

No, I don't work for AT&T. I actually don't like AT&T, having worked for those bloodsuckers once. But I can't turn a deal like this down.

Vonage / Cox in Phoenix experiences (1)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283139)

My dad got Vonage to use with his residential Cox cable modem in Phoenix. My experiences are exclusively those of the other end, a normal POTS phone. I expect to read many perspectives of owners, but probably few from my end.

Normal quality was a bit better than a digital cell phone. Those don't bother most people. I happened to have been pretty sensitive to the digitization that happens with digital cell phones, so I wasn't terribly impressed. There were periods, however, when it seemed like the VOIP stream paused (packet loss is my assumption), and it would buffer several seconds of conversation (5-10 seconds) and then play them back very rapidly once the stream was reestablished. This was not a problem when I talked to my dad, who is a very consistant speaker, although I didn't understand why he acted like he couldn't hear me during the buffer times, but it was a problem with my mother. My mother sometimes speaks in bursts, rapidly clearing out her own buffer when multiple trains of thought arrive at the station simultaneously-- when the VOIP buffers clearing out at the same time, I had to ask her to back the trains out and bring them back in slower, which was frustrating for both of us.

With a good ISP, perhaps with a business class DSL connection (I'm in the "shared cable systems are bad" religion, although there are fewer of us left), I would imagine that most people wouldn't experience my father's buffering problems, and perhaps a quality setting could be adjusted up for more bandwidth and increased verbal clarity.

Great, another VoIP topic (0, Offtopic)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 10 years ago | (#9283198)

Like we need another one every other week.

Yeah, yeah, i'm gonna get modded down but I gotta vent a little.

I needed to purchase a RAID system so I submitted a request to ask info about people solutions and suggestions about inexpensive ( $2000 ) stand alone hardware RAID systems or using windows or linux with an IDE RAID card.

That was rejected but since then there have been dupes and the bi-weekly VoIP story.

Like I said, I'm gonna get modded down ( and I understand why ) for whining but I do we really need yet another VoIP story?
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