I got a cool new technology toy. It’s a new way to make telephone calls without having a telephone line. You use the Internet to make phone calls. It’s called Voice over IP (VoIP) and I just got one and I love it. I can now make phone calls over my cable modem and get rid of my phone line. I’m only paying $30/month for telephone with unlimited long distance in the US and Canada and International calling rates are about 4 cents a minute. It eliminates my real phone which was costing me $55 a month with unlimited US long distance and less features. So I have a better phone and saving money.
The plan I got was from a company called Vonage. After a lot of research it looks like they have the best deal. Here’s how it works. They send you this unit that is the Internet to telephone adapter. You plug it into your DSL or Cable Modem and then plug your phone into it. On my home network it lives happily behind my firewall router.
The install was simple. I plugged it in and it worked. There was absolutely nothing to configure. It powered up and the first thing it did was phone home and download an upgrade and configured itself. That takes about 5 minutes. It has one green blinky light on it and when it stops blinking – it’s ready to work. I plugged my phone in and made a call.
The voice quality was BETTER than a real phone. It’s all digital which is why the quality is higher. And – it comes with a lot of features that real phone lines don’t have. For example – it comes with voice mail that can email you the voice mail message as an attached WAV file. You can also add extra “virtual numbers” in any area code you want for $5/month per number. So – if you have a friend in another state you can have another virtual number which allows your friends in that area to call you by calling a local number.
One very cool feature is that if I go on a trip I can take the phone with me and plug it into the Internet whereever I go. So if I went to Australia I can plug it in and get my calls as if I were home. With an IP phone location doesn’t matter. The phone is where the adapter box is.
For those who want privacy – this phone isn’t easilly tapable like line phones are. The box created a vpn back to the home network and encrypts the data. The perfect phone for the paranoid, people who support civil liberties, computer geeks, and drug dealers. I’ve always assumed Ashcroft is listening to me. But now he’s going to have to work a little harder.
The terminal adapter supports 2 lines so for another $10/month you can get a second line to use as a fax line or make two phone callse at once from to different phones.
Another cool feature is that you can set it to automatically forward the phone line in case the network phone fails. So if my internet connection goes down incoming calls are forwarded to my cell phone. And if I want that to happen I just unplug the adapter and the forwarding instantly kicks in.
Voicemail is very cool. I get an email alert when I get a message recorded. I can set it to forward me the message as an attached WAV file – or – I can just go to the web site and listen to it. Or – I cal dial *123 from my phone and put in my passcode and listen to my voice mail. It also gives me the choice of reading me the caller ID number and the time stamp of the call.
If you have a laptop and a USB headset you can get a “software phone” that turns your laptop into a telephone with all the same calling power as the terminal adapter.
One of the reasons it’s so much cheaper is that they don’t load you up with all those taxes that you get on phone lines. You know how the government is – they hate people who have phones and drive cars. So – this is one of those middle class taxes that I don’t have to pay anymore. (Except for my cell phone). I say – screw the government. They are already getting too much of my money.
I moved my existing phone number over to the new service. Because I was moving my number – which isn’t instant – they gave me a temporary number until the move occurs. However – since I have call forwarding on the old number I forwarded the old line to the new temporary number and thus managed to get everything working instantly.