Vonage – New Age Phone Service

by techenet on July 2, 2009

     I’ve been using Vonage now for several years and while the initial idea of VOIP at homevonage had me a little apprehensive, Vonage has turned out to be a great investment.

Here are some of the features I use:

  • SimulRing – this allows an incoming call to ring not just the Vonage line, but any other phone number you designate.  I use this to ring my cell phone as well.  So rather than giving out my cell phone number, I only give out the Vonage number and when a call comes in, I can either answer it on my desk (Vonage) phone or my cell phone.
  • VonageTalk (Softphone) –  A little known addition is Vonage Talk which is an application that can be installed on any PC with internet access.  It let’s you place and receive calls right  from you computer.  I have this installed on my netbook/laptop and use a headset with a microphone so, like above, any call coming in can be answered right there on my netbook.
  • Use Anywhere – You can pretty much take your Vonage adapter to any location with internet access, plug a phone into it and there you go.  Before the above mentioned VonageTalk was available, I took my Vonage adapter and a small phone with me to South America and called home for Christmas…for free!
  • VoiceMail – there are many voicemail features, but the ones I use are email and transcription.
    • Email – Vonage can email your Voice Mails as attachments right to your Inbox where you can listen to them on the fly.
    • Transcription (Voice to Text) – For a small fee per transcription, Vonage will transcribe your Voice Mails to text and email or text you.  This is a great time saver and allows me to screen calls or just know what the callers topic was without taking the time to call in to hear what the message was.

Still, with all this VOIP goodness, all isn’t peachy in Vonage land.

     For example FAX is horrible.  I’ve attempted to use Fax over Vonage (and some other VOIP services as well) on DSL, Cable, and a couple of other internet service providers.  The problem is that Vonage uses several compression algorithms to compress voice and make the data that gets transferred back and forth smaller.  Fax communications, however, are already compressed data which is then traditionally transferred over analog telephone lines.  With Vonage, that compressed fax data is re-compressed and sent over the Vonage system.  In my experience this is just hit and miss.  I’ve been able to send a 10 page document just fine, only to follow up with a 5 page document that just wouldn’t go.  noFaxSometimes the fax will cut out in the middle, and sometimes it just won’t send in the first place.

     My suggestion is simply to not look to any VOIP solution for Fax.  Stick with a regular fax line and fax machine, or try one of the many online fax services such as eFax or my personal favorite, RapidFAX.

     Finally, let me say that Vonage is not  a replacement for a full phone system that provides features such as Auto Attendants, multiple lines, Transferring, etc.  Vonage is great for a small one or two person office, but for anything more, you should really look at some of the corporate VOIP or PBX solutions.  I suggest something like TalkSwitch.

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