The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business
VOIP Provider OverviewâVonage
Vonage the Broadband Phone Company is the upstart hailing from Holmdel, New Jersey, that's causing telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon some concern.
As of September 2006, Vonage (say âvon-udgeâ) boasts 1 million customers and completes 35 million calls per week.
Why is this so? For one thing, an intense and unrelenting marketing blitz throughout 2005 ensured that today we see Vonage everywhere; TV, print newspapers and magazines, radio, and of course the web. In fact, "plastered" all over the web is more like it.
As one of the first VOIP providers to target consumers, theyâve got the whole marketing package: a catchy jingle, competitive residential and business products, toll free customer care, 24/7 email support, plus Ask Vonage, an automated customer service agent answers your questions almost instantly. (Although, I found it took a few tries to ask the "right" question.)
Compare Vonage Products with other VOIP Providers
Vonage sells both residential and small business plans on the web at Vonage.com and at other online retailers such as Amazon.com and Buy.com. Vonage also sells through familiar retailer chains such as Best Buy and Office Depot.
Monthly rate plans range between $14.99 and $24.99 for residential customers and $39.99 or $49.99 for small businesses, which makes Vonage slightly more expensive than some competitors. For example, for unlimited calling, Packet8âs Freedom Unlimited is $19.95 compared with Vonageâs Premium Unlimited at $24.99.
However, if special phone features are important to you, weigh the cost against the Vonage features not offered by other companies, such as incoming and outgoing fax support, caller ID by name, and selective call forwarding (call forward to a predetermined number based on caller ID).
What about hidden charges and startup costs? Vonage seems to be fairly upfront about this, providing a startup cost calculator on their web page so you can easily compare the first month cost and then monthly charges. Always ask questions about the taxes, shipping and handling, activation fees, and termination fees through email or on the phone to customer care if you're unsure about them.
If you are looking to replace your landline with VOIP as your primary phone line, definitely consider Vonage.
Vonage Service Reviews
For consumer reviews of Vonage services, check out the following sources:
Got Questions? Ask Vonage Yourself
Remember to ask about any promotions. There usually is one.
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