Voice-over-the-internet-protocol (VoIP) services have become a serious competitor for traditional telephony companies. They are cheaper, require less maintenance and are easy to use.
VoIP communication works through the internet and consists in sending or receiving phone calls and other multimedia data via the internet, instead of using the traditional landlines.
In order to be able to do it, the voice signal which is analog has to be converted into digital, more exactly, into packets of digital data. Those packets are encrypted (for security reasons) and sent through the internet and they can be more than just audio signals. They can be images, videos or text.
The main reason why people prefer to switch to VoIP is cost. Landlines are an old technology with a high-maintenance and costly infrastructure. In order to keep it functional, huge amounts of money have to be spent. That money has to come from somewhere, and it usually comes from your huge phone bills. Long-distance calls are the trickiest ones to be placed and that is why they are the most expensive ones.
With VoIP all those calls become significantly cheaper, because they use the internet regardless of where you want to make a phone. Everything happens online.
There are other areas in which you can reduce your costs considerably. Setting up a VoIP system is way easier and quicker than traditional landline systems. Depending on your needs, you may not even have to invest in equipment of any kind. You can make and take calls with VoIP just using your smartphone or your computer/laptop and a headset, as long as you have an internet connection. You don’t need a professional to install the system, you can do it yourself within a few minutes, which reduces your costs even more.
Another benefit of VoIP is the fact that it is portable. You can take it with you anywhere in the world, as long as you have a reliable internet connection you can use.
And yet another benefit of VoIP is that is allows you to also send video, images and text over the internet.
Vonage – is it a good VoIP service?
Vonage is probably one of the most renowned names in the VoIP industry and a leader on the market.
Vonage is a cloud communications company based in New Jersey and was founded in 2001. Vonage offers cloud-based VoIP services for various purposes, for both residential and business needs.
You get four plans with Vonage: Vonage North America, Vonage World, US & Canada 400 and Vonage 3000 to Globe Philippines.
Vonage North America includes unlimited calls anywhere in the US, to Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico. Calls can be made via your mobile or home phones.
You can opt for the 6-month promotion, which is $9.99/month for the first 6 months, plus taxes and fees or you can go without an annual contract, for $24.99/month plus taxes and fees.
Vonage World includes unlimited calls to over 60 countries worldwide for calls to landlines and unlimited calls to 10 countries for calls to mobile phones.
Just like with Vonage North America, you can opt for the 6-month promotion (which is $14.99/month for the first 6 months, with a one-year agreement that costs $27.99/month plus taxes and fees) or you can choose the ‘no annual contract’ option (billed at $27.99/month plus taxes and fees).
Another plan is the domestic one called US & Canada 400. This plan includes 400 minutes per month with calls made/received on home phones and 2 smartphones (using the Vonage app).
This plan lets you choose between a one-year agreement which is $12.99/month plus taxes and fees and the no annual contract option, which costs just as much.
Vonage also offers a Philippines plan called Vonage 3000 to Globe Philippines. You get 3000 minutes in Philippines to Globe numbers and you can make and receive calls on your home phone and 2 smartphones. You also get all the benefits included in the Vonage World plan.
If you go with the 3-month promotion, the Philippines plan is billed at $14.99/month for the first 3 months and you have to sign a one-year agreement billed at $29.99/month plus taxes and fees. There is also the option to go with no annual contract and pay $29.99/month plus taxes and fees.
All Vonage plans include free shipping and free activation.
Vonage also offers Business solutions and they have a wide selection of products to choose from.
The sign up process for Vonage is straightforward. You have to make an account and enter 3 security questions when you set it up. If you want, you can also add your mobile number for the forwarded calls feature. You get a link where you can download the Vonage app and if you want to keep your old number you can do so but you have to pay an additional monthly fee.
Once the sign up process is completed, you get an email with your 911-dialing options. You have to provide them your location for the emergency operator.
When you sign up for Vonage, you’ll receive the necessary adapter, which is easy to install and also comes with a manual (in both English and Spanish).
Among the most notable features included with Vonage we can mention the mobile app, which is compatible with iOS and Android devices. The app can be used via 3G, 4G, cellular or WiFi or combinations between those options. You can see the calls to your main Vonage number directly in the app. You get the mute option, call waiting and integration with Siri.
Another useful feature is the Boomerang, which is helpful for international calls. You have to download the Vonage Extensions app and you can create a Boomerang list with up to 10 contacts. Whenever you receive a call from those contacts, Vonage answers automatically and tells them to hang up, so that Vonage can call them back using your Vonage number. This way, those contacts will not be charged at all.
Of course you also get basic features such as selective call block, anonymous call block, call forwarding, voicemail, call transfer, caller ID, a ‘do not disturb’ feature, 3-way calling.
There’s also the SimulRing feature, which lets you forward calls to 5 additional phones (desk phones, basic mobile phones or smartphones that don’t have the Extensions app).
You don’t get more advanced features such as video conferencing or text messaging.
Overall, Vonage residential is a good VoIP service if you are just looking for the basic functionalities and a more affordable option to your traditional landline. The call quality is good, the setup process is fast and straightforward and the mobile app is a good addition.