Broadband Phone Comparison: Comcast Digital Voice Vs. Vonage

Not so long ago, I was having some issues with my telephone company. Odd charges and inconsistent billing combined below-average service made me miserable. I decided to see if there might be a better choice out there.

Right around that time, Comcast began offering Digital Voice, which was Comcast’s version of broadband phone service. Since I already had both Comcast Digital Cable and Comcast High-speed Internet, they offered a very nice introductory discount with price breaks on my other Comcast services. All told, my total bill for all three would be between $110-$120 for the next 3 months while allowing me to keep everything on “one bill.” I was so frustrated with my previous telephone company that I jumped at the offer. Unfortunately, sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Two phone companies later, I am now with Vonage, another broadband phone company. Thus far, I am very happy with their service. Although both Comcast Digital Voice and Vonage are both broadband phone services that each uses a high-speed Internet connection to transmit phone calls across the country and the world, any similarity between the two ends there.

There are substantial differences between Comcast Digital Voice and Vonage’s service. In practically every way, Vonage is the superior offering. In terms of price, value, service, you name it, my Vonage experience has far surpassed what I endured while using Comcast Digital Voice.

Let’s begin with price. Comcast Digital Voice charges $39.95 per month. With that, you get free long distance, voice mail, caller ID, call waiting and all the other normal phone features. To be fair, this is a cheaper price than many phone companies might offer, especially when you factor in the free long distance. On the other hand, however, Vonage offers all of the above features and then some for only $24.99 per month. Some of their extras include email access to your voice mail account and automatic call forwarding in the event your Internet connection is lost (whether it is a power outage or just a lost of service). That second feature is a very important asset, because the one flaw with Internet phones is that if you lose your connection, you lose your phone. Vonage has at least offered a way to potentially avoid any missing calls.

As far as the service, there is truly no comparison. When I had Comcast Digital Voice, it often felt like I had bought an inferior cell phone opposed to a home phone service. Many calls got dropped or missed. When making calls there was often a static crackling on the line, as if the connection was being electrified or something. This often made it hard to hear people on the other end. When I called Comcast to complain, the only thing they could do was to either send a tech, which knew nothing, or offer a discount. Unfortunately, the service was as new for them as it was for me.

Vonage, however, has been perfectly clear. I have had no issues with dropped calls. The connection has been nice and clear, what one would expect from a house phone. I have yet to have a reason to test their technical assistance department, but the other areas of their customer service section have been both knowledgeable and direct.

Another benefit that Vonage offers over Comcast Digital Voice is a cheap toll-free number. Vonage’s toll-free number is an additional $4.99 per month with 100 free incoming minutes. This is most helpful if you have friends and family members who might need to contact you during the day without using any cell phone daytime minutes. All they need to do is call from any pay phone. Vonage also offers a wide variety of adapters and portable phones that make the service even easier to use.

Granted, to be fair, Comcast Digital Voice service was something new for the company and they were still in the process of working out the kinks. However, my sympathy has a limit. If your new product has some bugs then you might want to consider offering a discount while you iron out all your wrinkles. All things considered, though, Vonage is better, cheaper and more complete than Comcast Digital Voice. The comparison turns out to be no comparison at all.

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