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Vonage is a telephony service provider using internet technology to deliver landline quality telephone services. The technology employed is known as "voice over IP" and allows telephone conversations to take place over any broadband internet connection.
The telephone service is fully integrated with the normal telephone system so calls to any normal telephone is possible, be it landline, mobile, premium rate or international.
The major attraction of Vonage for me was that it required no telephone line into my property. As long as I had a broadband connection I was able to connect Vonage. It is true that for a lot of people a broadband connection is provided over a telephone line (such as ADSL from British Telecom or similar), but this is not always the case. A leading alternative broadband service is provided by Cable TV companies via cable modems. Since I have just such a Cable broadband service I was able to connect to the Vonage telephone service without any landline installed at all!
So I contacted Vonage via their website and signed up. The range of tariffs is limited, but since each tariff is pretty all-inclusive it didn't really matter. I chose a tariff at £7.99 per month including connection, unlimited free local and national telephone calls, free calls to Australia, free calls to the United States, free calls to Canada and free calls to Germany and a couple of other countries.
Yes - that's £7.99 (with no line rental to pay to BT on top!) for free national and international calls to US, Australia and others!
Vonage connection was all done online. During my sign up I was actually able to select which country and dialling code I wanted! I could have any dialling code I liked. I went form my local dialling code (to save confusing my friends and family) but I could easily have selected an Australian number (if, for example, my australian friends wanted to call me at local rate).
Two days later I received a box in the post - it was a small contraption which I connected to my Internet router. It had two telephone sockets in it for my normal home telephone. I use a cordless Phillips DECT phone at home, and I was worried that it would not work with Vonage, but it did! I just plugged it in and away we went. My line was immediately active and usable.
At this point I had two phone services (I hadn't yet cancelled my BT service) and I quite enjoyed calling my landline from my Vonage line to check out the call quality - it was fantastic. I couldn't tell any difference between Vonage call quality and BT. It was at this point I knew I could call BT to disconnect my BT line.
A few questions which I researched when I went for a vonage service:
Can I call 999? Yes I can! Do I get caller display? Yes I do! Do I get voicemail? Yes I do! What if the broadband connection fails? Vonage redirects to a backup number. This has never happened to me, but I use a pay as you go mobile just as a backup. Are the calls really free? Yes they are! (except premium and mobile calls, of course)
How Much Money have I saved? =========================
Before I installed Vonage, I had the following:
SKY television at £38 per month ADSL broadband at £10 per month BT telephone line & Calls at £30 per month total: £78 per month
When I switched to Vonage I also switched my broadband (because I didn't want broadband over my BT line) and digital TV supplier (because I wanted cable broadband). The costs of the new services is as follows:
Virgin Media TV & Broadband at £20 per month Vonage unlimited calls at £7.99 per month total: £27.99 per month
SAVING: a MASSIVE £50 per month!!
(The only degredation in service is that I've lost the movie channels for digital TV - but these are overpriced and rarely watched anyway!)
Of course, to take advantage of this massive saving you need to be able to get cable broadband.
According to USwitch.com, 15 million households in the UK have access to Cable-based broadband service. While only about a quarter of these actually have any cable-service at all, all 15 million homes could make substantial savings on their telephony costs by employing cable-broadband and Vonage.