Real-world Voice over IP Questions

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by emw, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    I am currently in the process of evaluating various VoIP services, particularly Vonage and CallVantage. I know there are others, from Verizon, etc., but I haven't looked into those in any detail. I did a forum search and found sporadic information (including another sub-thread I had posted in), but much of it is now outdated, so I figured I'd send out a new formal request for help.

    Keep in mind that I am looking to completely replace my existing telephone service, not augment it. I do not need to have software that allows me to make calls from my Mac, I just want to pick up my phone and dial.

    Here is what I see as the key Pros to moving to a VoIP system as my primary home line:

    1. Cut to the chase - I'll save at least $20 per month on my bill between local and long distance service, and perhaps as much as $40 depending on the plan. Not tons, but it will subsidize my TiVo habit.

    2. Tons of e-services, including e-mailing voice mail. Sweet.

    3. All the major calling features, including caller ID, etc.

    Of course, there are also Cons:

    1. Internet out, phone line out. Although I have a cell phone for this, and call forwarding could probably address the issue, it's still a bit of a pain.

    2. I've heard of latency issues on calls of around a second or so. Not horrible, but may be distracting.

    3. Seems difficult to have multiple phones attached unless you have the base stations that broadcast to multiple handsets.

    4. Not sure how it would work with my security system, which needs access and control over the phone line.

    What I am looking for is input from anyone who has had these services for at least a couple of months who can comment on service (customer service, phone reliability, sound quality), ease of installation and setup in a security system environment, or using multiple phones (can I simply run a phone line from my converter to my internal phone line patch panel?).

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for any input you can provide.
  2. eclipse525 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2003
    USA, New York
    My parents just signed up with Vonage. They discarded their landline all together. As far as sound quality, you can't tell the difference. In fact at times it seems that VoIP is clearer. When we purchased Vonage it comes with it's phone adapter(modem of sorts). Since we where sharing the cable modem with the computer, we needed to purchase a Router. No biggie, their pretty cheap. We went with a D-Link Router and it cost about $30 after rebate. I took it all home and went through the activation process and BAM!, within 15 minutes, my folks had a new working number. Real sweet. At first they just used the cordless phone they had but eventually when out and bought a phone that supports multiply handset. I personally think it works great and it's easy to hook up.

    Hope this helps with your descision.

  3. dotnina macrumors 6502a

    Aug 19, 2004
    You might want to look at Skype as well.

    It was just released for the Mac platform. I haven't used the call features, but the interface itself is pretty nice. You can put money into your account, then use that to make calls. From what I saw, calls were VERY CHEAP, something like $.017 cents to Canada from the US. (At least, I think that's cheap.)
  4. coconn06 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2003
    King of Prussia, PA
    Calls to Canada through Vonage are free. And from what I understand, though correct me if I'm wrong, Skype has to be used through your computer. The advantage of VOIP, IMO, is that it works just like a traditional land-line.
  5. dotnina macrumors 6502a

    Aug 19, 2004
    I just happened to run into this article on the topic.,+Vonage+slash+Net+telephony+rates/2100-7352_3-5390198.html

  6. emw thread starter macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Thanks for the feedback - I was particularly worried about the call quality, but it's good to hear some positive feedback. Hopefully others will weigh in as well. Sounds like you just got it, so hopefully everything will continue to work well!
  7. emw thread starter macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Both Vonage and CallVantage have free Canada calls, which may someday come in handy, but not yet.

    I agree that VoIP is a better option in my situation than Skype since I can use my normal phone.


    Edit: So as not to add yet another post, thanks dotnina for the heads up on the pricing. Nice deal.
  8. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Jul 28, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    I installed a Vonage phone last December, to parallel run it with our regular phone to see if it was good enough for prime time. We make a lot of calls to the UK so it was an attractive proposition, but it had to pass the 'skeptical wife test'. We ran it for a couple of months and then ditched our regular phone line and switched our old number to Vonage, as it proved to be pretty good.

    Once the old phone was disconnected, I plugged the ATA into one of our phone jacks and then re-routed the telephone wires in our junction box so that our alarm and all our other phone jacks were routed properly. Could have bought a multi handset phone but cheaper to use the existing ones. Strictly speaking this is not supported by Vonage (if you don't disconnect the wires from the telco first you can damage the ATA), but it works fine in practice.

    From around March 04 it's been our only phone line. We've had one power cut and one internet outage, but there's a setting so that it will forward to another number (i.e. your cellphone) if there's a network problem.

    We used to get an occasional echo on the line, but this seems to have improved over time to the point it's pretty rare. Voice quality is good, including calls abroad. Latency has never been a problem - you can have a perfectly normal conversation and the person the other end would not be aware they're talking over a VOIP service.

    We use the internet perfectly normally whether anyone's on the phone or not, and it doesn't seem to affect the call quality, although just once we had a call that was breaking up a lot. I noticed my router was going crazy and discovered my son had a major bittorrent session going that was soaking up all our upload bandwidth. Once we stopped that the call returned to normal quality. Oh and the other time we had a problem was when I updated the router firmware while my wife was calling her parents. The router rebooted mid-call and the connection was gone - oops. No problem though, just re-dialled and all was OK. I've since installed another phone at work, and it was a 10 minute job - registered the ATA MAC address with Vonage, signed up for the service, plugged the ATA into an ethernet jack, waited a few minutes, plugged in a phone and got a dial tone. Easy as that!

    All in all, a good experience. You might want to check out the Vonage forums

    Good luck
  9. emw thread starter macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Thanks for all of the details. Vonage is looking like it might be the way to go here.
  10. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Jul 28, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    Good luck. There's a money back guarantee I think. If you plan to go ahead, and are prepared to send me an email address, I can refer you and we both get a month free service. You would get the same deal if you referred others. I heard about one person that has hundreds of free months from referrals :)

    Final point - I have a Cisco ATA, which has been fine. It seems to me that most peoples problems are with the Motorola ATA, though this is a subjective view on my part. The ATA I bought for work was a Linksys PAP2 from Best Buy. It seems to be working great, and was $59.99 minus a $40 rebate, so net $19.99.
  11. bbarnhart macrumors 6502a


    Jan 16, 2002
    I joined the CallVantage service and got everything hooked up and running tonight. Configuration was not what I was expecting. The TA is a D-Link DVG-1120M with a built in router. It is placed between you modem and your local LAN (or computer). Its 90 kbps up and down for calls and it takes that bandwidth before it reaches you LAN so your calls sound good. I was thinking it was a regular ethernet device and would just hang off the LAN.

    There are a few gotchas that probably go with any VoIP, but I worked around all of them. Quality of calls is good and it sounds just like a regular telephone call.

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