Thursday, November 30, 2006

VOIP#1 VOIP#1

I had been thinking about VOIP for quite awhile, but never was quite ready to take the plunge. Then, I got a gift certificate at Wal-Mart/Sam's Club for my birthday, and used a bit of it to buy a VOIP modem. I signed up with Vonage for an account with unlimited long distance, etc., and then for a toll-free number.

The first thing I found though was that it just doesn't work that well over DSL. I wasn't surprised, but my brother who is also a patent attorney was a little bit. The problem is that DSL essentially piggybacks on a voice grade telephone line, and so VOIP runs digitally over such. Yes, the bandwidth of a DSL line is several times that of that needed for digitized voice. But my suspicion is that there isn't enough excess capacity to provide good speed. I think that you really need cable or faster broadband to make it work.

Nevertheless, it has provided what I really wanted from it:
  • Vonage provides for simultaneous ringing of incoming VOIP calls on multiple numbers. I have it ring on my cell phone and my land line, and use whichever is more pragmatice at the time. This is much better than my previous situation where my land line would ring for awhile, then forward to my cell.

  • Voice mail is available online. This means that you can see whom a call is from before listening to it, and only listen to the ones that you want to, deleting the rest. Also, you can do it with your computer speakers.

  • You can have multiple incoming telephone numbers for $5 per month per extra number. Thus, I can have one in AZ and one in CO for minimal cost.

  • Similarly, I have 600 minutes of incoming toll-free calls a month for $5 per month. Great for new clients.

  • Finally, it provides one number (per area) that works for all my phone needs. Someone in AZ can call me on my AZ number and get me on a land line in Dillon or Golden, on my cell phone, or sitting in a motel room in Las Vegas. Ditto, my CO number.

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