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Do you use VoIP service at home?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 7, 2005 5:53 AM PDT

Do you use VoIP service at home?

Yes, and I love it (tell us why)
Yes, but I don't think it's ready for prime time (tell us why)
Yes, but I don't recommend it (please explain)
No, but I'm considering it (why not now?)
No, I'll always use a landline (tell us why)
VoIP? What's that?

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VOIP - Only a week old
by JohnGroot / June 7, 2005 8:41 AM PDT

So far the service from Optimum Online is clear with no problems

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Can't beat the price.
by brpoll / June 7, 2005 8:49 AM PDT

I am using SunRocket. It's $199/year unlimited long distance plus all of the extras. I love it.

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No Problem
by Pigeonsld / June 7, 2005 8:53 AM PDT

I use Primus Canada- the quality is fine. The website access gives me virtually complete control. And it is cheap. The odd time my internet connection is dead it kicks in voicemail. But we have always had two phones- one is a land line. I think I would always want two- the other a cell or a land line just in case an emergency arose when my broadband was down.

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by abent2000 / June 7, 2005 9:10 AM PDT

Last year when the hurricanes came through Florida, the first thing to go was the power and the cable (which I use for Broadband service). The plain old copper wire land line phone NEVER went out. I'll NEVER switch to a single service provider that is as fragile as the power or cable.

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by walterwenckus / June 7, 2005 10:03 AM PDT
In reply to: VOIP - NEVER!

You could have used a cell phone and charged the battery with your car charger.

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Always an option
by mpmacal / June 7, 2005 11:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Voip

There is always an option, BUT... if you are serious about your suggestion, i.e. If you use VOIP, you need a backup, then you have to include the cost of the cell to the monthly charge.

Not looking so cheap now...

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VOIP - FL Hurricanes
by smartipants / June 7, 2005 1:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Voip

There was no cellular service for most of the areas hit by the hurricane. My mother was right in the middle of it, and I had no way to reach her for days, even with her cellphone battery fully charged.

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by jamie.p.walsh / June 8, 2005 4:40 AM PDT
In reply to: VOIP - FL Hurricanes

If I'm not mistaken, most of the phone services were out for a while too. You were screwed any way you look at it.

And, are you really considering the events of an act of God as your basis for whether or not a technology is worthy?

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by tomlegal / June 7, 2005 11:06 AM PDT
In reply to: VOIP - NEVER!

I could not wait to get away from my land line. I had SPRINT local service and I do not like SPRINT as a company. I went to VONAGE and cut my phone bill in half. I have 2 lines in my home. It take almost 2 months to get my main number switched over from SPRINT to VONAGE. I feel that it was a SPRINT problem and not VONAGE. I called VONAGE every other day until the number was transfered. since it is long distance to talk to any one in our family I am sure that we will talk to family more since all calls are included.

I do not see it as a problem that if the power goes out then I do not have a phone. I have a cell phone if needed. In the last 3 years I think the power has gone out maybe 2 times and I have lost the cable maybe 3 times. I don't think that is bad. I have a friend that were to TimeWarner and they could not get it to work at all even with the service techs.

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by PupD / July 17, 2005 10:25 PM PDT
In reply to: VOIP - LOVE IT

Vonage has an option that fowards your calls to another number if the power is interupted. During the hurricanes al calls came to my cell phone. I have had vonage for almost 2 yrs and love it. I have considered switching to Lingo because they include western europe to their plan but have not read many good reviews for Lingo.

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VoIP -- no way-- heading back to land lines
by avocats / June 7, 2005 9:29 AM PDT

took months for the transfer to Vonage and then I cannot get a decent outbound voice quality. constntly losing calls. impossible to get customer service.

sure it's cheap, but so is NO telephone service, which is all we've got to show

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by davidvh2 / June 7, 2005 9:41 AM PDT

The idea of VOIP is great but the technology seems to be lacking. I've been using Skype but the quality is not as good as I'd hoped nor wish to accept. There is a "delay" almost like in the "old days" when speaking on a long International call when it was basically best for one person to talk whilst the other remained perfectly silent. When done speaking a party would say "OVER" & then allow the other party to talk. Any interruption by the (then) "receiving" party would upset the call. If anyone knows of a better system, I'd be interested but it seems to me that local or International, Dial-Up or ADSL makes no difference to the quality & nor does the hardware (I have a Pentium 4 3.2 PC with 1Gb of memory & adsl)

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There is Latency in the Internet (bad for VoIP)
by ydragon74 / June 7, 2005 11:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Quality

Just wanted to give my (experienced) opinion for some of you that may be considering going to VoIP.

It rocks, but it has some gotchas. The technology is well developed, and it is being used extensively in some large companies due to the cost savings, and call quality that is comparable to land lines.

The things that most large businesses have that consumers won't however is dedicated bandwidth on private networks. The problem with home VoIP is that the voice packets that travel over the Internet can experience large latency (delay), which can make your call choppy. One thing that will help this is if you have a phone adapter with built in QoS or Quality of Service which will allocate more bandwidth for your voice call if it needs it. This only applies if you have people online surfing when you are using the phone (it give the telephone priority).

I have such an adapter from Vonage, and it works; most of the time. During times of high "neighborhood Internet surfing" (Comcast puts neighorhoods on one big shared network) 6-9pm for instance, I often get choppy calls, but at other times they are fine. Some of this depends on your ISP and how much bandwith you have, but you are still at the mercy of the Internet, which is very busy nowadays, and is full of latency (how long packets take to go from point A to B).

I call Australia often, as well as a other states, and it doesn't seem to matter where I call, I get great call quality (during those non-peak times).

Things to watch out for :
If you have DSL be wary if you are trying to drop your local telco; often they make you have a phone line with them in order to have their DSL service.

Make sure they have good 911 service, it functions like normal 911, and they don't charge extra. (Vonage has this, was one of the first, and it was easy to get up and running).

Make sure you are willing to put up with poor customer service and tech support. Most VoIP providers are notorius for bad service. I would say unless you are an expericenced and knowledgeable user, stay away from VoIP, as it requires a lot of patience and some troubleshooting.

If you switch phone providers to VoIP your from local carrier, if you lose power, you lose your phone. Local telephone carriers supply power to your telephone, and have backup systems so that your phone works during a power outage. If you lose power with VoIP, better have a charged cell phone.

If you lose your Internet service, which I did several times a couple of months ago when Comcast was having problems, you lose your phone.

If you have a security system which calls out, it will likely stop working if you go VoIP. There are ways to fix this if you're willing and able to go through the hassle. If you use VoIP as a supplemental line, and keep your regular phone line, you can avoid this.

Unless you can do your own phone wiring, you will only be able to use one phone which plugs into the adapter (you can always use those multiple handset cordless phones).

VoIP is a mature technology and can save you a boat load of money (I save $30 a month), but you have to be willing to go through a lot of trouble and put up with a lot of downtime and choppy calls. The Internet is now a crowded network which can really mess with your call quality during peak times.

I have several friends I wanted to refer to Vonage, but I am holding off. It still makes sense for me, and I am still happy with Vonage overall, but only because I do this for a living.

Hope this helps

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You can easily use all of your phones
by jmw082 / June 7, 2005 12:55 PM PDT

Your post was right on target except for one point:

''Unless you can do your own phone wiring, you will only be able to use one phone which plugs into the adapter (you can always use those multiple handset cordless phones).''

All you need to do is to take a phone cord (the type that connects the phone to the wall), plug one end into the router and the other into a wall jack. This powers all of your phones. (Or should I say my phones.) If you need to use that jack for a phone, get an adapter that lets you plug two phones into a wall jack. Plug the cord from the router into one end, and the phone into the other.

You should probably disconnect your phones from the outside lines. Most homes have a gray box on the outside. The customer can is allowed access to the side that opens with a screw (at least in the Ameritech world). Open that side, unplug the modular plugs, wrap them with electrical tape to show that you disconnected on purpose. (You can put a note inside the box if you are really concerned.) Close the box and tighten the screw. You are now disconnected from the landline. (Remember if you sell the home to let the new owners know what you did.)

To do all of the above requires no wiring skill and is easier than it looks.

One other thing -- sometimes you lose service because the router has to be reset. Turn off the computer, power down the router, let everything sit for a minute, then start it all up.

I also had a spell with Comcast where I would get the ''limited or no connectivity'' message. I used the ipconfig commands (dos prompt) to fix these, thanks to support help.

First type ''ipconfig /release'' (stuff between quotes). You will get a message that you have no connection.

Then type ''ipconfig /renew'' (again the stuff between the quotes). This will restore the connection and everything should work fine, assuming you are getting a signal from the cable company.

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You are Right, Good Explanation
by ydragon74 / June 11, 2005 4:12 AM PDT

jmw082 is absolutely right, thanks for correcting me, that was a good explantion of how to use your all your phones. Disconnecting from the demarc (AKA Network Interface) on the outside of your house is important if you want to do this, as the voltage can cause a background hiss on your line, and could maybe affect your phone adapter. It is typically the red and green wires, just be sure you remember what you disconnect as there are usually multiple pairs (and don't touch both at the same time, you could possibly get a little jolt, but its not as likely if your telco has disconnected you).

Sorry if I confused anyone about multiple phones, I confused myself. I did a little wiring so I could have an extra phone jack in the room with my adapter, and I guess I forgot how easy it was just to plug the phone adapter into the wall.

Note: Motorola and Vonage say that their adapter is only made to support one handset (presumably due to power requirements to power ringers, which local telcos usually provide in abundance), but I have been working fine with three phones. Cordless phones and phones with power adapters probably don't need line voltage for the ringer too.....

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by smartipants / June 7, 2005 2:13 PM PDT

"Things to watch out for :
If you have DSL be wary if you are trying to drop your local telco; often they make you have a phone line with them in order to have their DSL service."

My telco owns the ISP and you have to subscribe to BOTH through them or forget DSL! I'm sure if they can block CLEC access to their central office, they're already doing that. Also, no cable ISP available in my area. :o(

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by tiffsherwood78 / June 8, 2005 9:37 AM PDT

I signed up for Vonage thinking, "well I know how to use a computer fairly well, so I should have no problems setting this up and getting it to work"... WRONG.

It worked fine for the first day with the temporary number, then it started making my internet connection cut out for 10-15 minutes every hour or so, then no connection at all. So I disconnected the adapter and my connection was GREAT.

So I decided that there is NO way I am going to deal with having to FIX my connection every other day. So I call to cancel my service and cancel my transfer of my phone number... easy enough right? Only had the service for a few days, shouldn't be to hard...

WHAT A NIGHTMARE! The WORST communication between departments and VERY RUDE customer service! Tried to get me to talk to tech support and FIX my problem... I declined, so they got very rude. Said "OK, your service is cancelled" No were to send the adapter or if I would be refunded any money... they just ended the call! I called back and I was told that my service was cancelled and the transfer of my number was cancelled... well for some reason the people that were supposed to cancel my phone number transfer never realized that I had CANCELLED my entire service, LIKE THAT SHOULD MATTER! But that was their excuse when I had NO phone service 2 weeks later!

They NEVER cancelled the transfer of my number and my carrier cancelled my service since that is what VONAGE told them to do. SO I call (on my EMERGENCY CELL PHONE @ $.25 a minute) Vonage and they OF COURSE have NO idea what I'm talking about and tell me that I do have an active phone line!!!!!After many phone calls and emails they finally admit their mistake! I get my phone number back for 2 weeks! Since Vonage wouldn't even admit that they had it for a week! I FINALLY have phone service again... WITH QWEST! AND I will NEVER transfer from them again!

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VoIp @ Home
by philding / June 7, 2005 9:32 AM PDT

I use VoIp at home. Why? Because it works. The quality seems to be fine. The expense is minimal.

When I travel I can plug my Vonage router into the hotel's network and my phone works and calls are free. (Well, free as included in whatever the hotel charges for broadband hookup.)

If I travelled more I'd look into a VoIp over 802.11 so I don't have to plug into anything.


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Lots of reasons to love VoIP now...
by jjbenning / June 7, 2005 9:36 AM PDT

If I was asked this back when I first signed up for VoIP service nearly 2 years ago, I would have said it's not ready yet...

Now, VoIP is reliable, cost effective, and it works. It's all I've used for the past nearly 2 years.

Some caveats:
-If this number is your only home phone, it will be unlisted (for some people, this is a good thing Happy )
-You will have to dial all eleven digits, even for local calls (those of us in the big cities have to dial 10 anyway, so no big deal there)
- It's tied into your Internet service, so if it goes down, so does your phone

If you can live with the above, I think that anyone that goes to strictly VoIP will never go back to having a landline ever again.

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911 is improving fast as well
by kurtpochert / June 7, 2005 11:38 AM PDT

My 911, assigned by Vonage, is my local EMS 24/7. It's OK to call 911 when you get set up, indicating a non emergency situation to the operator, to check that it goes to a proper local 24/7 place and add to your comfort level. You now have to tell them your name and address, but that is now changing for the better e911 enhanced service provided by the land line companies.

I would also add to the previous post that having a cell phone available when home (In your car, etc.) would be a great idea when the cable fails. Vonage can detect a cable failure and you can set up a forward to your cell number for all incoming calls.

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Internet Telephony
by umfaz / June 7, 2005 9:38 AM PDT

I have downloaded free internet telephony from You can speak to anyone else who is a Skype user for free anywhere in the world on your computer using your DSL line. You just need a microphone or headset with microphone.

In addition, you can buy "SkypeOut" minutes which you can use to call anyone on their regular landline using your computer. The cost is minimal (10c a minute to South Africa).

So far, the service has been very good, only dropping the connection a couple of times since I've been using it (about a month).

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Can't Beat the Price
by work4fun / June 7, 2005 9:40 AM PDT

I love my VoIP service - no noticable difference in call quality, MUCH cheaper than landline, and like web access to calling features.

However, I won't be using it to call 911.

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My 2 cents on VOIP
by cobo6 / June 7, 2005 9:41 AM PDT

The main reason i want sign up for VOIP is becasue if my internet connection goes down, so as my telephone calls. My second issues is with the 911 calls.

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by walterwenckus / June 7, 2005 9:59 AM PDT

I have used VOIP (with Vonage) for about 6 months and I like it because it costs less than half as much as the wired landline service. I was able to keep my same phone number. I also have the 911 service activated at my home. I tried calling 911 once to test it and the call went to my local police station. The police operation told me that she didn't have my address on her computer screen so I would have to give my address in an emergency. I have a cable modem with 4 mbps speed. The quality is very good but occasionally if both parties try to talk at the same time the voice cuts out like on a cell phone. If the price were the same as the wired land line I would stay with the land line. I will stay with the VOIP service as long as the price is much less than the traditional land line.

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Would love to try it
by himmy1 / June 7, 2005 10:01 AM PDT

But unfortunately it isn't available in this area of Canada. Vonage has it, but only in the big metro area's like Toronto

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VoIP works great ... with cable
by jrhmobile / June 7, 2005 10:33 AM PDT

I love VoIP. I was a beta tester/early adopter of Time Warner Cable's digital phone service. I recommend it for anyone who can get it. VoIP without the hassles. Real service support, online and if necessary, in person. It costs me $43 a month with voicemail.

I have a cellphone I can use in a pinch to make a service call if the system goes down, which I've had to do on an occasional basis over the last 3 years or so. But the $20 I'd save a month to get the spotty VoIP service offered by others and NO service or support makes those savings look like a false economy.

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That's not VoIP!!
by mberlant / June 7, 2005 3:12 PM PDT

The service you describe is not VoIP service. The service you describe is Cable Telephone service. Your service is real telephone service that happens to be delivered by your cable company.

There are several key differntiating factors to determine whether your service is Cable Telephone or VoIP. If you retain Dial Tone in a power failure, it's Cable Telephone. If the service is delivered to the side of your house on its own pair of copper wires (and not as a separate adapter box that plugs into your router or cable modem), it's Cable Telephone. If the service offers true 911 features, it's Cable Telephone. If you do not have an adapter box that you can carry with you when you travel, it's Cable Telephone. If you must pay extra for features like Caller ID, Three-way Calling, Call Waiting, Voice Mail, etc., it's Cable Telephone.

These are the reasons you are only saving about $5 per month over traditional phone service. Cable Telephone service, like all other CLEC services, runs about twice the price of VoIP services because it is real telephone service provided by a different company. If, on the other hand, you answered, "No, my service isn't like that." you are simply paying Cable Telephone prices for VoIP service.

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Do you use VoIP service at home?Yes, and I love it
by gabiek / June 7, 2005 10:34 AM PDT

We have been totally wireless for over 5 yrs - Cell phones are expensive if you use a large number of talk time minutes. We just started using VOIP and have cut our cell phone bill in half. We live in a hilly location & sometimes have to be careful where we stand while on the cell phone so the calls don't drop, but not with VOIP. In fact, we called friends in Munich Germany - talked for 17 minutes and it cost about 64 cents. You can see your usage/bills online instantly w/our provider. We have 911 coverage in our area - just need to activate it on line. Oh, and cordless phones in our area had a lot of static on the line - VOIP is crystal clear!

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VolP service
by popymoose / June 7, 2005 10:43 AM PDT

I had similiar in NY and we lost electric we lost the service and when you lose cable you dont have it either. In all the storms we had phone service but if you have the VolP service in major weather conditions you lose it all. This is my experience.

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by PastorC / June 7, 2005 10:57 AM PDT

I just signed up and have received my hardware and kept my old phone number. It will take me sometime to get use to dailing eleven numbers to place a local call and not being able to see the callers name on the caller ID. I understand that might change in the future.
The cost savings is worth it.

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