Perhaps the only thing that beats the warm feeling of chatting with a friend long distance is the cold sensation you get when you receive your phone bill. Luckily, for those who dial long distance regularly – whether for work or pleasure – Vonage can make such scary moments a thing of the past.
Using Voice over IP technology (essentially, running your phone line over the Internet), Vonage offers several flat fee packages that make even the most basic services offered by conventional phone companies both inefficient and expensive.
In my own case, I run a home-based business, and over six years, had two different traditional phone companies. In both cases, two phone lines were twice as expensive as the flat fee I now pay for three lines with Vonage.
For those who are technophobic, relax. If you can turn on your cable television and/or have a high-speed Internet hookup already, you can probably handle the installation of the Vonage ‘boxes’. In fact, Vonage’s customer service was at least several notches better than the traditional phone companies I had been dealing with. The represntatives took the time to explain how the service worked, where I could go to get additional questions answered, and provide other support.
Vonage also offers several options that most traditional phone companies either do not offer at all, or offer only at a much higher price. With Vonage, you have the option of reviewing voicemail, for example, online or by dialing through your phone. You can also forward any Vonage line to any land-based or mobile number. These aren’t extra features, but rather, come standard in many Vonage flat-fee packages.
There are a few caveats, however. When Vonage first rolled out its service, transferring numbers was cumbersome, and customers often had to make do with a ‘temporary’ number while their number was being transferred from their old phone company to Vonage service. (This was probably as much, or more, the fault of the phone companies, who obviously aren’t interested in making business easy for Vonage.) So, if you are contemplating a move anyway, that might be the ideal time to obtain the service, thus eliminating any possible hiccups.
In addition, Vonage does not offer full 911 service in all areas. The company does an excellent job of letting people know this, however, providing both written and verbal information when a customer signs up. If your local area has figured out a way to direct mobile numbers right into the 911 system, however, then your mobile phone may be the easiest way around this. But it warrants investigation.
Even with these inconveniences, the pricing of Vonage’s phone service is tough to beat. It is a viable alternative to paying two to three times as much to a traditional phone company for a fraction of the service.