Internet Phone

I recently decided that I needed a second phone line at home. We used to have two lines, but when we move last we only ordered one and haven't really missed the second until fairly recently.

Anyway, rather than call Verizon and pay a million fees, I decided to give Voice over IP a try. I've used VOIP previously with a inexpensive Linksys device and the Net2Phone service. There were two main problems with it: you could only make calls, not receive them, and the sound quality was similar to a poor cellular connection. It was cheap, and it worked (kinda)

That was a few years ago so I decided to give Vonage a try. Vonage seems to have fixed my two main Net2Phone gripes: you get a plain old phone number that can be used for incoming calls, and thus far, the sound quality has been pretty much the same as a regular POTS telephone. You also get a huge list of features that cost extra on a regular phone, such as voicemail, call forwarding, call waiting, call coffee making, simultaneous ringing on two lines, call transfering, and conference calling. Long distance is included on most of their plans, and they offer an unlimited usage plan for only $30 a month.

The small phone adapter can also act as a simple router/NAT device if you don't already have a router, or works seemingly well behind a firewall. I plugged it right into my Linksys router and was off and calling in a few minutes after signing up. You plug it into Ethernet, and plug any telephone into one of two line jacks on the back of the unit.

You can purchase a kit for $30 retail (after rebate) or signup online and get the phone adapter free after a $30 setup fee. (so, its basically $30) Monthly plans start at $15 for 500 minutes. The service did experience a bit of downtime the day after I signed up, but an outage message appeared right on Vonage's homepage, and the service lets you setup a forwarding number to use so calls can ring through while their network is down or cannot reach your phone adapter.

While it probably can't replace a landline, Vonage does make a decent second line for a home or small business. Vonage gives you several referral coupons that get you a free month, so if anyone wants to try it out, please contact me.