Vonage alternatives.
December 17, 2007 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Vonage alternatives?

I've been with Vonage for over a year now and up until this weekend it's been problem free. Now, it just works when it wants to. The problems started on Friday night and have been persistant since then.
Given this and their lawsuits, it may be time to switch to somebody else. But who? I've got my broadband Internet service through TimeWarner and it's great, but their VoIP service is a whopping $40 a month. That's $15 a month more than what I'm paying now.
Anybody have a VoIP service that they can recommend?
posted by NoMich to Technology (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I use Lingo and have been pretty happy overall, $25 a month (with taxes and fees) for pretty much unlimited service.

Some services give bonus for folks referring 'friends', so if you go with someone's suggestion, you might do them a solid and let them know first, so they can send you an invite and get the credit or whatever...
posted by pupdog at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2007

I had Vonage for a while too and got rid of it...terrible service, even worse customer service. I can't really vouch for a traditional VoIP provider (what an oxymoron, huh) but I myself am contemplating switching to one of the WiFi plans provided by cell-phone carriers.

T-Mobile at Home was the first one I believe, and it allows you to use your WiFi network for cell service. I believe Sprint and Verizon have--or will soon have--competitors to the T Mobile service. Sounds interesting to me, and not to hijack your thread, but has anyone used any of these? And care to comment?

As of now I'm using just my cell phone and couldn't be happier. Not really an answer to your question, but you might want to consider it.
posted by jckll at 4:36 PM on December 17, 2007

A bit off topic, but Vonage customer service was extremely persistent and annoying when I called to cancel. I had to tell them that I was moving to a rural area with NO INTERNET SERVICE WHATSOEVER before they'd leave me alone.

I'm with Comcast now, which doesn't help you at all, and is only mediocre anyway.
posted by desjardins at 4:44 PM on December 17, 2007

I've had Vonage for many years, in various locations (assorted Internet providers). It's always been tolerably OK -- fax almost never works, but everything else does. However, I've still got my original, ancient modem, which has lately started dropping its connection and requiring a reboot of most of my network gear to get restarted. Between that, the patent lawsuits, and the $40/month Vonage ends up charging me (basic service, extra number, overseas calls, etc. -- it all adds up!) I figured I could do better.

I switched over to a Skype phone (Philips VOIP841), which is about $3/month for an inbound phone number, plus pay-as-you-go for outbound phone calls. Skype-to-skype calls are free. This has been working well enough for a month or so that I plan to drop Vonage soon.
posted by spacewrench at 4:47 PM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: ...but I myself am contemplating switching to one of the WiFi plans provided by cell-phone carriers.
T-Mobile at Home was the first one I believe, and it allows you to use your WiFi network for cell service. I believe Sprint and Verizon have--or will soon have--competitors to the T Mobile service.

Sounds interesting. How much are these plans and, exactly, how do they work? Is this something that you could use as an everyday home phone? (I know I could look this up for myself, but this is the price you pay for "hijacking" my question. Heh.)
posted by NoMich at 5:25 PM on December 17, 2007

We had packet8 for about 2 years. We never had any issues, we cancelled only because it was rarely used.
posted by TomMelee at 6:57 PM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: I've been looking at pupdog's recommendation for Lingo. Anybody else around these parts have experience with them?
posted by NoMich at 7:07 PM on December 17, 2007

I'll add to my own suggestion, I did play with the service for a week or two after setting up - the recommended setup is cable modem--lingo adapter--router, but that seemed like it was 'throttling' my connection strangely, so i moved the box behind my router, and have had no issues with sound quality or speed since. Lingo's customer service has always been great to deal with, the only times I've had to talk with anyone were over billing issues (my fault, a changed CC on teh account tripped up the autopay and such), and they were great to deal with - no long hold times, and someone who knew what they were doing was actually answering the phone, not an anonymous 'read it off the script' call center.
posted by pupdog at 7:32 PM on December 17, 2007

I second Skype. Pickup a Linksys Skype phone and you're set. I've been very happy and spend no more than $60 a year on it.
posted by bumper314 at 7:55 PM on December 17, 2007

Former Vonage user here too. I ended up going with Voicepulse and I've been really happy.

Here are my personal + and -:

+Number ported well
+Good call quality, very little down time (one night it was down for 3 or 4 hours that I can remember)
+Good customer service
+Bring your own hardware (so you can switch to a new provider at any time)
+Custom caller ID (you can tell it for X number to show "Mom and Dad" on caller ID

-Website isn't very pretty, menu structure isn't perfect user friendliness.
-Great quality customer service but not available 24/7 (no weekends AFAIK)
-calling via computer is an extra monthly fee (for when you're traveling and want to make calls from your laptop)

Here's a set a reviews which may help you decide:
broadband reports reviews

Also, for the tmobile @ home - apparently you don't need to have the tmobile @ home fee to make wifi calls. With the right tmobile wifi-enabled cell + the right router settings you can make UMA calls, although the calls from your "bucket" of minutes. So you could have a Fave Five plan + a wifi phone (example: blackberry 8230) and make unlimited wifi (and cell) calls to your fave five numbers. Blackberry forums have more on this.
posted by sharkfu at 8:42 PM on December 17, 2007

+1 for Voicepulse. I switched to them when Sunrocket went down, and have had no problems at all. I had one minor problem setting up, called their customer service, and got a guy who said they'd fix it that day. Much to my surprise (after experiences with Vonage and Sunrocket), they not only fixed it when they said they would, but the guy called me to tell me it was fixed.

I'm on their limited plan, which I think is something like 200 minutes a month for $15, but since I never use that much time, that one's fine for me. Plus they have features like call blocking for specific numbers, and forwarding for only selected numbers, neither of which I actually use, but I like having them anyway.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 1:36 PM on December 18, 2007

After Sunrocket imploded a while back I switched to ViaTalk. Right then the service was pretty bad as they were swamped with refugees. It took about 3 weeks to get everything up and running. Now it's fine. It's pretty cheap especially since they added my Sunrocket free year to their deal. so I ended up buying a year of 500 minutes/month for around $150 and they gave me a free year. Even without the free year it's still a pretty good deal.

I haven't had any problems with the service, except that it takes a very long time for most calls to connect. I mean something like 7 or 8 seconds. Also I don't think they'll let you block calls by the number like Sunrocket did. That was a great service.
posted by sevenless at 3:38 PM on December 18, 2007

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