The VoIP Service Blog

Compare and review IP Telephony & VoIP providers. News on the latest technology, from mobile Internet to IPTV.

Reader reviews Vonage and

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reader Kevin Deitrick wrote me to share his recent experience with and how it contrasts to his previous VoIP service provider, Vonage:
I have used vonage for just over a yr and with 100% satisfaction I set up a virtual number and it was working in 48hrs the customer service was great I had a problem with the router well with one side of the phone hook up and there tech support walked me through troubleshooting it and switched it over in under 20 mins. I regret having to leave the company when I moved into an area that they did not cover. Unlimited usage real was unlimited my family lives in Michigan and my children call back there a lot I use aprox 3500 mins a month and with no complaints from vonage.

I switched to in june of this year and have had nothing but problems with there billing service and support. They billed me my normal monthly bill for 2 months then the next 2 months they billed me 50-40 plus my monthly bill and my bill is different every month. It took them over a month to setup my virtual numbers then because of my usage they threaten to switch my unlimited monthly usage to a small business and of course a month later they did. There prices are great but there only suggestions this is what I have been billed since June. There customer support is ok there respond times can be days sometimes sooner but not on average. I have lost many phone conversations while using there service even though my internet connection was still working good. When I inquired about the extra 90.00 a month charge they told me it was for the cost of setup and the router but now that I am going to cancel they still are requiring that I return the router or they will charge me for it again. I hope that you can warn you viewers of this policy of there’s before they make the mistake of following your advise as I did and tried this company and expecting the same service I got from vonage.
Kevin also included a list of his first seven monthly bills with that ranged anywhere from $21.45 to $55.03 and he says he received no explanation as to why there was such a difference each month. In addition, there were four extra charges of $40, $50, $40 and $50 that all happened within the span of one month, which he contests as explained in his review.

I welcome any official response from a representative, either by e-mail or through the comments section, that clarifies this dispute and/or gives the other side of the story. A smart VoIP provider knows that in order to thrive in this business, it has to please its customers, knowing that word of mouth works both ways. I'm sure this case can be settled in an amicable fashion for both parties and I hope that I will have a more pleasant follow-up to post soon.

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in the above quote is a 3rd party review and not necessarily the view of The VoIP Service Blog, which is an affiliate of

Have you had an experience with a VoIP service that you'd like to share? Leave a comment or e-mail me at voip_telephony [at] yahoo [dot] com and I'll publish your review or directly link to the review on your website.

Two new VoIP services compared, contrasted

Friday, December 15, 2006

I've mentioned both GrandCentral and TalkPlus on this blog the past. Both services give you an extra phone number and they both do some neat tricks with your voicemail, giving you more control over who gets to talk to you. Even their names are both compound words with a capital letter in the middle. So what separates the two? Good question, and The VoIP Girl has your answer:

GrandCentral: You need it if people have a hard time tracking you down. You find yourself playing telephone tag. You WANT to be found but heck, you're always bouncing between work, home, and on the road. It's also free.

TalkPlus: You need it if your mobile phone is your primary means of communication but the separation of work and play is important to you. You want people to know that you're calling from the office (the caller ID says this is a work-related call) even though you're calling from home or the beach in Maui. You are also concerned about personal privacy and want to make sure that your personal number is only available to the people you want to have it.

(via VoIP Watch)

Free SkypeOut in US and Canada to end soon

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Although Skype is ending its promotion of free SkypeOut calls to landlines in the US and Canada on December 31, 2006, they are offering a new promotion for 50% off the cost of unlimited calls between the US and Canada for one year. The typical price is $30 per year, but if you subscribe before January 31, 2007, you can get on the unlimited calls plan for only $14.95/yr and you'll get the following coupons:

  • $30 off Polycom Communicator speakerphone
  • $30 rebate on Netgear WiFi Phone for Skype
  • $10 off Motorola Wireless Internet Calling Kit
  • $10 off Motorola Talk and Tunes HT820 Bundle
It's interesting, albeit expected, that this promotion follows its free calling promo. Let's see if Skype is able to turn its users into paid subscribers and eventually make a profit for parent company, eBay.

New Skype phone cancels crosstalk

Although many new phones now support WiFi, Ipevo has sacrificed wireless capability for improved audio quality on their Free-1 IP Phone for Skype. Buzz Me Baby has the full review:
Virtual phone lines may be the order of the day but a few developers are beginning to feel the pinch of competition. Guess that’s the reason Skype has tied up with a few manufacturers to float Skype compatible handsets in the market. Ipevo Free-1 USB phone is one such attempt.
The fancy-looking VoIP phone plugs into your Windows or Macintosh computer with its 8-foot USB cable and integrates into your Skype software for making Skype-Out and Skype-to-Skype calls.

The speaker and microphone have been optimized to work in full-duplex, reducing the crosstalk that occurs when both parties are speaking at the same time so you are less affected by echo and static. At $30, it's not a bad deal if you're an avid Skype user, but it would be even better if it worked with multiple VoIP services.

T-Mobile's WiFi VoIP service still being tested

T-Mobile is ironing out the kinks in its HotSpot@Home service, which lets users with WiFi-enabled cellphones make calls on open WiFi networks, if available, and switches them over to the more expensive cellular network if they leave the range of the WiFi signal.

Today's New York Times continues its earlier intro to VoIP over WiFi phones with a new article that discusses reactions from early testers of the HotSpot@Home service from T-Mobile. To sum up the article, it says that it's a promising technology that isn't yet up to snuff:
Call quality was excellent on all Wi-Fi networks tested, including full-duplexing — better described as the Robert Altman effect — in which both parties are speaking at the same time but can hear each other clearly.

Roaming, however, was far from acceptable. The cellular-to-Wi-Fi handoffs worked most of the time without interruption to a call in progress. But most Wi-Fi-to-cell transitions caused a dropped call as the hot spot signal ebbed with distance.

The subjects in the article eventually canceled the service after the test period due to dropped calls, high battery usage and inconsistent WiFi connections. They haven't given up completely though, and would reconsider if the mixed cellular & VoIP service quality improves.

Simplify with GrandCentral VoIP Service

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's well known that VoIP lets new companies offer neat features that just aren't available with your phone company. GrandCentral, for example, wants to give you a free phone number that you can use to organize your phone identities. It started as a voicemail service, but has grown to include some nifty options.

Basically, you can add any number of "real" phone numbers and when someone calls your GrandCentral number, all those phones will ring. Let's say you're at work and your phones ring. Rather than picking up your mobile phone and possibly incurring charges for incoming minutes (or draining the battery), you can just pick up the landline. Then if you actually do have to leave your cubicle, GrandCentral lets you seamlessly transfer the call to your cellphone. The calling party never has to know which phone you're talking on!

For those worried about their privacy, you get much more control over your call screening, even if you don't have CallerID. Any time you answer a GrandCentral call:
First, we'll tell you who's on the line ('Call from Ted Baker'). Then, we'll present you with:
1) accept it,
2) send it to voicemail,
3) ListenInTM on the voicemail, or
4) accept and record the call
You can also press 4 at any time during the call to start recording. With ListenInTM, you'll get to hear the person record the voicemail and decide if you want to take the call immediately. Through the web-based control panel, you can organize your contacts into groups and setup automatic behaviors and filters for each incoming phone number. You even get an e-mail address ( that forwards to your real e-mail, if you're so inclined.

This Screencast from Molly at Screeniac is a great "in-action" overview. Om Malik also writes to say that GrandCentral now has unlimited incoming calls, even on the basic free accounts. Lastly, the downside is that GrandCentral is still in beta testing and doesn't have phone numbers in all area codes yet. They are also currently unavailable outside the United States.