Finished the Vonage installation. The second half went much faster then the first half. You really have to want it however. Until they nail ease of setup, I don't think the Local Exchange Carriers (LEC's) have too much to worry about (at least from Vonage).
I did have to make some port
forwarding editions to my gateway for 5060-5061 UDP and 10000-20000 UDP and
then open the firewall to these ports inbound and outbound. But after that the phone came to life.
Talking to people on a traditional landline, the latency was not noticeable. Talking to someone on a cell phone would sometime result in that cell phone to cell phone “talk over” deal where both parties sometimes would start and then stop. Basically, the quality seemed as good or better then a cell phone however.
The phone user-experience was identical to a traditional experience. White noise is present on the line and there was no noticeable clipping. White noise (that slight hiss in the background) is an interesting phenomenon. We have all grown up with it as a part of our phone calls and we use it unconsciously to tell us that the other party is still on the line. Cell phones often don’t supply this white noise (because of their digital nature) so as a culture we are adapting to not having it. It’s just one of many unexpected challenges of implementing phone service with a new technology. Another interesting problem a friend told me about once is the multi-set pickup problem. Everyone is accustomed to answering the phone, calling upstairs to a second person who picks it up, and the first person hangs up. That’s a pretty unnatural act for network device..
After making some calls I jumped on the web site to look at
my call history. Pretty cool, you can
browse through, listen to voicemails, etc. I called and left myself a message, almost instantaneously I got an
email saying I had a new message. That’s
pretty cool, I really could have used that 10 years ago trying to start my
first business while holding a day job.
All in all, not bad. The setup is terrible but once installed it seems to work ok. The web site admin is useful but basic. I can’t help but think there are a lot cooler things to do that would improve the value proposition of the entire setup, rather then just being the low cost alternative.
My first impression is that this is a great second line for a home business. I do have to say given the out-of-the-box experience I’m amazed Vonage has the subscriber base it has (about 600K).
There has to be a pretty sizable number of people that just give up and return the stuff.