Vonage is interent phone service -- but it uses real phones, real phone jacks -- not geeky headsets. You pick up the phone to make a call to ANYBODY on the planet or answer it from anybody. I had my Bellsouth phone number transferred to my Vonage account.
Vonage works by plugging your phone into a special Linksys router (has phone jacks as well as ethernet jacks on back) that connects to your cable modem. You get dial tone, busy signals. If you have a voice mail, you get the stutter beep, just like with regular phone service. It IS regular phone service, but over the internet for a third of the cost. It's magic.
I'm paiying $15 + a couple dollars in taxes and fees for same stuff I was paying Bellsouth $50 + long distarnce for. I get local phone calling, long distance, call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, voice mail... I can check my voice mail ONLINE if I want (which lets me choose the order of messages) and can even download or forward the voice mail as sound files (much like mp3s). I'm using the same phone number I've had for years -- my friends don't' see any difference in the year I've had Vonage.
Cell phones are OK, but in my apartment I can't get a good signal. With my cell phone, the call either goes straight to voice mail or I'll talk for a minute or so and the signal is lost. So, I like having a home phone. Plus, I don't necessarily want everyone to have my cell phone number.
If you want a home phone, there's no need to pay one of the Bells an arm and and a leg. Use Vonage.
I chose the Vonage "$15 - 500 minutes" plan which gives me over 8 hours of talking (local or long distance). They also have an "$25 - unlimited" plan, but I don't talk that much. On the 500 minutes plan (sort of like a cell phone plan) they charge you per minute over the limit, but in a year of using Vonage I've never gotten to $25. You have to talk for like another two hours past the 8 hours to hit $25. But, if you talk a lot -- and you know who you are -- get the $25 unlimited plan.
With Bellsouth I was paying $30-something for basic phone service, $5 for voice mail, and naother $10 for options package (included caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding of calls to my voice mail if the phone was busy.) Just the stuff you need, nothing fancy. But with fees and taxes, it all came to $50 per month. AND THAT'S NOT EVEN INCLUDING LONG DISTANCE CHARGES -- which was sometimes another $5 to $10 per month. So, $50 at minimum for BellSouth, sometimes $60. With Vonage, the same service (including any long distance) is $15 + a couple dollars for taxes and fees.
As for quality, most times it sounds like a regular phone call. Occasionally -- very occasionally -- it will degrade to the quality of a cell phone call. Not a big deal -- some people only use cell phones and they live with that all the time. In the past year, I've had dropped calls 3 or 4 times. In a YEAR. Again, not a big deal. For less than $17 per month, I can live with that. People say, but what if you lose power or your cable goes out? Oh, stop it. I'm not paying 3 times as much just for ''what if'' scenarios, OK? Power goes out, cable goes out -- that's what cell phones are for. Except in my case I have to step out to my parking lot to make a cell phone call because my cell phone doesn't work as good as my Vonage in my apt. My Vonage is great, I love it.
However, be wary of outfits jumping on the voIP bandwagon, like Comcast. I use Comcast cable modem (fantastic speed, good service) but I will NOT use their voIP plan. They want to charge as much as Bellsouth but just include long distance for free. Huge profit for them but the consumer is not seeing much benefit. Vonage is much better. Lower costs, lots of features, great service.
THAT's the deal with VOIP.