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Old 12-12-2005, 11:40   #1
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Voip who has it and which services do you youse to make calls

I have been using voice over IP for a year it has saved me a small fortune on telephone calls, I use it in the marina that I live in. I have wifi on my boat which gives me Internet access . What I would like to know is what services are the rest of you are using and what other benefits have you found. One of the major benefits which I found recently from my provider Skype was I was able to take a UK telephone number in London and all my friends and business acquaintances are able to ring me at the UK, at local call prices and it actually arrives on my boat via the Internet. Please give me some feedback on the subject. This is something Iíve Trying to get to the bottom of I have been talking to forums around the world on this issue. Paul at NeptuneNet
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Old 12-12-2005, 11:59   #2
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Vonage

We have been using Vonage for 5 years. We no longer have a physcial address as we are cruising full time, but we still have our home phone active.

Besides savings on the average of 100 US per month we have enjoyed the features. We have all of our voice mails emailed to us or access it online for nothing. Saves us money and our family money.

It is also important for the insurance comapny and credit cartd companies as they like a real phone number, not just this is my mom's.

We also have been using Skype for over a year and it has saved us a small fortune for making calls to the states while in the Caribe.
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Old 12-12-2005, 18:07   #3
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Vonage and 802.11b/g

I would suggest only using Vonage/Wifi as a backup to another calling arrangement.

I had put this type of system together, only to find that it cannot be relied on 100% of the time. Often, there is not enough bandwidth on an 802.11 signal (due to rocking, tidal changes, rain, trees, and various other dynamic issues facing boats).

Having spent maybe $600 on the system (15db gain omni ant, 1 watt power amp, heavy duty coax), I would have expected a little more reliability. We went back to GPRS/GSM cell phones as our primary mode of communication. This setup is fine for data, but isn't what I would have hoped for for VOIP.

Of course... if you are in a remote location where calls home are extremely expensive, you can just deal with the less than reliable service to make some free calls.

PS: Vonage is by far the best company for VOIP. I have been using them since 2000 or so.
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Old 13-12-2005, 06:21   #4
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We're very pleased with the (financial) freedom Vonage offers, now that all of the USA is 'local'. Both Sean's cautions about reliability and the 911 issue are drawbacks for some users, tho' I would describe our Vonage access to be rock solid, ashore.

Bill, I'd appreciate you describing how you find it worth the monthly fee to be continuing your Vonage service while out cruising. It's obvious how this would be useful when plugged into the grid (e.g. PLC) but, out cruising, I don't see how this meets a need I haven't been meeting with Skype/ & SkypeOut. (When someone needs to 'call' us, they just shoot us an email - we have winlink on the boat - and we call them, assuming we have wifi access). I ask this because we had originally planned to return to the Med with our Vonage modem and are adding improved wifi reception somewhat like Sean describes. But after using Skype for a year over there, Vonage just seems like an unnecessary expense. What am I missing? (I should add that, if we winter in e.g. Turkey, restarting Vonage service would make a lot of sense).

Jack
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Old 13-12-2005, 07:44   #5
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I agree with Jack's description. It would seem that Skype would be a better alternative in dollars and cents.
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Old 13-12-2005, 07:46   #6
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fees

Our monthly Vonage fee is 16 dollars a month. Nothing else. It is paid by credit card automatically.

While in the US it gets us unlimited long distance in North America and 3-7 cents outside the US. We especially like the vmail feature and the fact that it is emailed as an attachment to any address we want.

Many credit card companies will not accept a skype address as a valid phone number.

We also have many contacts in the US that have used ourt number for years and we don't want to lose that. Skype only works when you have internet access. Vonage is transparent to the caller, no one has to send you an email to let you know they want to call. You call us leave a vmail and an email is sent to us or forwarded to any other number we designate. Also we can pick a phone and call for our vmail just like and answering machine.

We love SKYPE but the vmail feature is expensive. 30 bucks.

The other advantage is we can create a virtual number for my parents to call locally from WI, another for Shron's brother in CA, etc. These people are technologially impaired and this appears to blend in the mainstream.

We will use both as they have advantages.
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Old 14-12-2005, 06:38   #7
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Bill, thanks for the reply which made me scratch my head some more (always useful). In trying to sort apples from oranges, here is what I got from your comments which I can apply to our needs:
-- $16/month is an excellent rate; ours is $27+
-- Vonage is definitely a fuller 'phone' service when compared to SkypeOut and the tech-impaired relative knows how to relate to it (that would fit my parents, for sure); of course, one pays for the fuller phone service while one pays nothing for ongoing access to SkypeOut, so that's the tradeoff; another glitch in this is that the tech-impaired relative will be invited to think that, to call Bill, I just dial his #; no answer and I leave a message - either way, the caller feels he's made contact. But if you are off the grid, this may not be true for a while; guess it depends on how 24/7 your email access is and whether it accepts Vonage email notification (I don't know if Winlink or Sailmail do)
-- You confused me when saying Skype suffers the disadvantage of needing internet access; of course, but isn't Vonage dependent not only on access but, more specifically, broadband access? Meanwhile, one of Skype's advantages is that you can make it function with a slow modem (something we did in London all winter one year)...so it's more adaptive than Vonage
-- having voicemail notifications (one feature you mentioned) forwarded to an email address (which then must be monitored) would help when the caller has no email capability but, otherwise, I don't see this being functionally different than the caller sending an email directly to us; this is why I bught my (non-computer literate/non-computer owning) parents a Pocketmail device - by Dad's 90 next year and 90% blind, but by golly he can email us regular as clockwork! (Sure hope I have inherited his genes...)
-- having voicemail messages themselves forwarded to another phone could be very useful; OTOH we only activate a mobile/cell phone with SIM cards when we'll be in-country long enough to warrant it and I suspect this may be a tough thing to arrange when a USA-based Vonage voicemail has to be posted to a Euro phone system; bottom line - probably not applicable when in the Pacific or Europe but feasible in the Caribbean/North America
-- if stopping to winter somewhere with wifi, having the Vonage device and a standard phone aboard makes lots of sense as we can reinitiate service; that was a big 'ah-ha' for me in this discussion, as I was seeing it more as a 'one or the other' choice

Jack
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Old 14-12-2005, 07:07   #8
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more VOIP

Vonage doesn't require internet access to check your vmail. You can call from any phone from anywhere in the world. Just like calling your home answering machine, call your phone number, hit star and put your passcode in and listen to your messages. No internet needed.

The vmail attached to an email is generated by Vonage. The caller has no idea this is being done. We have many family, freinds, and other important contacts that will not use the internet just to make a call much less than send an email. It keeps us in touch with the impaired or those who don't want to go through the trouble.

IT provides a useful and fairly flexible inexpensive option. We use both as they both have advantages. It is better to have choices than not.
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Old 14-12-2005, 07:38   #9
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Re: more VOIP

Quote:
sv_makai once whispered in the wind:
We use both as they both have advantages. It is better to have choices than not.
I think sv_makai hits on the most important aspect of it. Using more than one system. While we have changed over to Tmobile cell phones (admittedly, one is a Treo for redundant email access), I still keep my Vonage setup ready to re-activate in case it becomes the better option.

Where I am now, sometimes the throughput of my preferred 802.11 (WiFi) connection degrades for reasons mentioned in my prior post. This would cause problems with Vonage from time to time, so we deactivated it at least for this winter.

Once out of the US, we will likely go back to having Vonage active, then use the Tmobile service with my unlocked Treo (world phone) to have a good overall set of options for checking email, calling and surfing the web.

This was the most cost-effective way for us to have guaranteed access to email.
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Old 15-12-2005, 07:02   #10
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...and there is an overarching variable here. Bill pays less for Vonage access and explains they have more of a need for ongoing 'phone' service, even when it's really just a message-holding service. OTOH we would be paying a larger monthly service fee plus the additional cost of accessing voicemail while feeling less of a need to have a message service. Different horses for different courses.

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Old 15-12-2005, 10:03   #11
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Life is a bout choices

That is the great thing, everyone can chose a serive that best fits their needs. Short of buying a sat phone one can change anytime or add with very little impact to the budget. I beleive in flexiblity.
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