VoIP Report

When I got DSL, I mentioned on this blog that I was probably going to get VoIP service from Vonage. I did end up getting VoIP service, but it wasn’t from Vonage.

Everything I’ve read online and heard from people suggests that Vonage’s recent marketing extravaganza outpaced capacity and that Vonage was suffering from some very real growing pains. Well, if I’m moving away from rock-solid landline service and I don’t want to hear from my wife about how I made a big mistake, I’m not going to be part of any growing pains—especially not paying for the privilege.

I evaluated Packet8 and liked them in general, but something was a deal breaker and so I opted to move along. I’d relate what that oh-so-problematic something was, but I honestly can’t remember. Nothing jumped out at me while scanning through the web site. I’ve heard lots of good things about Packet 8, so definitely include them in any VoIP research you might conduct.

I ended up settling on AT&T CallVantage. I read their site and reviewed the online reports only for the sake of thoroughness. The more I read, the more certain things kept cropping up: “stable,” “feature-rich,” “worthwhile.” I took the plunge. It was a painful process getting my number switched over but that was totally Qwest’s fault.

AT&T requested the switch and then later tried to reschedule the request. Qwest decided not to accept the change and never told AT&T. So AT&T didn’t start my service just as Qwest ended theirs. Frantic phone calls ensued and Qwest eventually relented, temporarily re-establishing my phone service until AT&T could turn on VoIP. Once they did that, I called to Qwest to cancel my home phone. Qwest said no problem and for the next two days all was well.

Then Qwest decided that, in cancelling my home phone service, I actually wanted to cancel my DSL too. Of course. Why would I actually want to use Qwest for anything? When I pressed them on it, they conceded that I was in the right and that they would have DSL turned back on within a week. I balked. Okay, by tomorrow evening, which is the absolute earliest a serviceman could get there. Apparently something in my home wiring setup had changed in the last hour or so and it required a home visit to fix. Uh huh. In the end, they re-activated my DSL within the hour but not until I had spent an hour on the phone arguing that nothing technically could have changed in my DSL setup that they couldn’t remotely re-establish.

The actual phone service has been pretty good. The voicemail took some getting used to and we can’t rewire the house so that every phone jack uses the VoIP because we’re using DSL for connectivity. We had some weird behavior when a second call came in over call waiting, but one call to tech support seems to have cleared that up.

My only problem with CallVantage is that it depends wholly on the broadband connection. And I think everyone knows that that’s not 100%. But the good thing is that all calls automatically go to voice mail and are still logged in caller ID. Plus, you can have alternate numbers set up so that calls automatically get forwarded to, say, a cell phone.

Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend CallVantage to anyone considering VoIP. If you can’t roll with the punches of occasional outages, then I would suggest keeping the land line or switching to a cell phone as your home phone.

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