Questions regarding ditching a landline for VoIP
June 15, 2004 12:03 AM   Subscribe

I've got a few questions regarding ditching a landline for VoIP. [More Inside]

I'm contemplating ditching Verizon in favour of Vonage, or maybe Time Warner VoIP if it is available in my area soon, 'cause they are my ISP too. I was wondering if you could share your experiences with VoIP please? Speficially I want to know apart from TiVo, did you find not having a landline a pain at any time? For example did you run into hiccups when getting DSL (assuming you connected via cable before), or say getting a cable connection, etc.

Also how is the call quality? I use my landline for making and receiving a lot of international calls, so call quality is pretty important.

I've already read the previous Vonage related discussions here, but none of the comment really answered my concern about going landline free and not encountering any problems.
posted by riffola to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
What's keeping you from going to cell-only? All the hip kids are into it.
posted by NortonDC at 12:21 AM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: I make & receive way too many long international calls, and I'd rather not use my cellphone minutes on that.
posted by riffola at 12:38 AM on June 15, 2004

Best answer: I did this a year ago and never looked back. Saved a bunch of money and never had a problem with call quality. My net connection is via Time Warner cable, so I can't address the DSL question.

However, the text ads on this page explain why after getting vonage I suddenly developed an interest in hot guy-on-guy action. YMMV.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:00 AM on June 15, 2004

Best answer: Vonage call quality is generally quite good but I do occasionally experience echos and dropped moments.

I still have the land line -- we do use it for local and international calls but, more importantly, for outgoing faxes. I have not had good luck trying to transmit a fax over the Vonage line. (The fax machine issue would be moot if I could always fax from my computer but I am not able to do so/do not wish to at this time.)

International dialing rates, if I recall correctly, are quite low per minute although we use a calling plan on our land line.

I can not address the DSL question (see land line references above :).
posted by Dick Paris at 3:14 AM on June 15, 2004

There are some less than obvious drawbacks.

Using Optimum Online's VOIP product:

-You can't call beyond the US and Canada without a calling card.

-The voicemail is promised but as yet remains unimplemented.

-The price is very competitve, but there is no guarrantee the price will not rise.

I will however say that after almost 6 mos of fairly heavy use, I have yet to hear a single drop out or echo during use.
posted by BentPenguin at 6:17 AM on June 15, 2004

You say "apart from TiVo" - does this mean Tivo doesn't work with a Vonage phone? I have neither, but have considered getting both.
posted by dnash at 8:52 AM on June 15, 2004

Can someone explain this whole VOIP shenanigans to me? I use iChat to talk with a mic and headphones, but I have a feeling that's not what you're all talking about.

Do you get seperate handsets with these things? Can you call regular numbers? Is it much cheaper? Can regular numbers call you? Is it bait and switch -- will prices surge up when the old networks are dead?
posted by bonaldi at 9:05 AM on June 15, 2004

Instead of POTS it is IP based. If I recall correctly most phone companies are IP based, or at least not circuit based, at a certain high level point anyway. I don't know why this makes it cheaper, I would assume POTS is just really inefficient.

I guess technically your iChat + mic is VoIP, but for a true VoIP you'd want a T1 line and then run one of those linux phone switch servers from it. This is what Kevin Mitnick does when he goes on TV and calls people from numbers that aren't his as a trick. He'd call someone's number and it'd appear to be from 555-5555 or whatever. He's just routing his call through one of those systems.
posted by geoff. at 9:29 AM on June 15, 2004

bonaldi- VoIP acts, for all intents and purposes, like a real phone line. Instead of a chat client, where the person on the other end needs a compatible chat client, you can call anyone with a phone.

I keep toying with the idea of Vonage, but I just don't trust TWC's uptime.
posted by mkultra at 9:38 AM on June 15, 2004

Best answer: I've been using Vonage for about 7 months, and am really pleased with it. I ended up ditching the land-line after about 4 months. Sound quality is somewhere between cell-phone and land-line quality for domestic calls, but I find the quality on international calls to actually be better than most connections I made with the land-line. I do get the occasional echos and dropouts (probably happens a few times a week, and only lasts a couple of seconds).

The main problem I've run into with the service is that things get really flaky if I'm maxing out my bandwidth with BitTorrent or something. I get around that by using software that limits the amount of bandwidth my PC can take up -- you need about 100Kbps available in *both directions* for Vonage to work properly.
posted by nixxon at 9:57 AM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments, I'm in the same boat as mkultra, I don't think I trust RoadRunner's uptime enough to switch, that's why I was wondering about DSL.

I guess I should give it a whirl like nixxon with the landline, and then see which to keep.
posted by riffola at 10:40 AM on June 15, 2004

Best answer: It might also be worth mentioning that Vonage lets you set a 'network availability' number, so if the network is down for whatever reason your calls get forwarded to the number you enter. I have it set to forward calls to my cell phone if the network is down, but my broadband connection is pretty stable so I can't vouch for the effectiveness of the feature.
posted by nixxon at 1:03 PM on June 15, 2004

So geoff., what does the linux box connect to? Who pays for the bit where the call hits the POTS network?
posted by bonaldi at 5:08 PM on June 15, 2004

Best answer: I have a Verizon POTS and a Vonage VoIP both. Total cost about $30 a month using the minimum service from both.

Attached to the POTS is an answering machine with the ringer turned off. I give out this number to the plumber, bank, online services, etc.. it handily answers 5 or more spam calls a day and I just delete the messages on occasion. This is my "public" number.

The Vonage number is my "private" number and hand it out to friends and family. Ive never had a spam call here.

In addition the Verizon line acts as a backup in case the cable goes down, power outage, that sort of thing.

This system works very well and solves a lot of problems for $30 a month.
posted by stbalbach at 6:00 PM on June 15, 2004

Best answer: riffola, I've been using Vonage in Tokyo for over a year without any significant issues. Every once in a while, I'll get some echoes, nothing bad though. Overall, to be able to have a 212 area code number ring in Tokyo, to have my friends and family call me as a local number when I am halfway around the world, it is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Drop me your number in nyc via email and I'll give you a call so you can see what I mean.

Vonage and VoIP in general is one of the extensions of the Internet that really feels like magic.

Oh, and I use a cellphone for Japan domestic calls (so I can avoid NTT, Japan's version of AT&T.)
posted by gen at 6:41 PM on June 15, 2004

Best answer: vonage is a wonderful thing. i switched to it from mci not too long ago and have no real regrets. some slight static when i'm maxing out bandwidth, but if you're wise enough to keep that to a minimum (ie, disabling bittorrents when on an important call), there's really not much difference between vonage and a cell connection. also, for those interested, international calls on vonage have about the same quality for a much lower cost than pots companies. my wife frequently calls japan, and between the lower long distance and lower monthly access, we were easily able to cut our home phone bill in half over the last few months.
posted by dogmatic at 10:01 PM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the info! I'm now more interested in getting Vonage and giving it to my mom in Bombay with a NYC number, that would solve all long distance problems. I'll look into it, she does have an always on connection, so it should be good.

gen, thanks for the offer, I actually had another felow MeFite who uses Vonage call me last night, and I was amazed at how clear it sounded, it had more clarity that his cellphone. If I still need to be won over, I'll definitely drop you an email! :)
posted by riffola at 6:19 AM on June 16, 2004

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