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Summary:

Vonage, the broadband phone company has been near perfect in keeping its hype machine humming nicely. The company continues to garner favorable coverage, has managed to rile the established phone company giants, and forced some to change their ways. Not bad for a company with less […]

Vonage, the broadband phone company has been near perfect in keeping its hype machine humming nicely. The company continues to garner favorable coverage, has managed to rile the established phone company giants, and forced some to change their ways. Not bad for a company with less than 100,000 users. Its growth curve has been pretty steep. It reminds me of the early days of dot-com. However, till this morning, I never wondered about the service quality issues of Vonage. Then I got an email from Steve Sachs, a resident of Washington who had this to say:

I have had Vonage for about 7 months, and the experience has been a disaster. The problems: people say they call me and the phone doesn’t ring; sometimes there is no dialtone; sometimes I get a fast busy signal; some calls get dropped; and then the worst problem of all: I forward my calls from my Vonage line to my cell phone whenever I leave my home. If people leave a message on my cell phone, when I go to pick up the messages I am told that the message is 6 seconds long and it is almost always blank, i.e., no voice. Occasionally people are able to leave messages. Now that Vonage is working on it, they have made it worse: the calls don’t get forwarded at all. Add to that the fact that level-2 techs don’t appear to work over the weekend, and you’d better hope and pray that your problem gets solved by Friday afternoon! Except mine has been going on for months.

I am now wondering if the company’s popularity has resulted in all the issues that come with “scaling.” Is anyone else experiencing these same problems. I think Steve’s email shows that things are not that rosy yet in the VoIP land, despite what our friend Jeff Pulver might like us to believe. Don’t get me wrong, for I am a believer in the power of packet voice. But still quality of service is still an issue to be explored and I want your help. I would like you to share your Vonage/VoIP experiences and post them in the comment section.

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  1. I have had Vonage for my small business since the beginning of 2004. I have experienced the following issues:
    *Frequently dropped calls
    *As long as 5 second delay in my voice being heard by the person I’m calling
    *No dial tone
    *Poor connection quality.
    *Forwarded calls dropped.

    I was so frustrated that I dropped the service. Thank God that my number hadn’t been transferred yet and that I had kept my old phone service, just in case. I think this is the phone system of the future, but the technology just isn’t quite there yet.

  2. Vonage, like all of the other “VoIP providers” providing for-a-fee PSTN interconnection are going to have trouble scaling, not because of the IP/packet portion of the call, but rather because every call has to be circuit-switched finally. It’s in that that most problems lie. Consider that my FWD calls, pure IP, both from DSL/cable lines in the US and India to various parts of the world routinely have lower latency and better fidelity than a PSTN call; so, yes, VoIP _is_ ready for prime-time and no, you don’t need QoS to make it workable — but you need to stop PSTN interconnection to really see the higher quality. What will Vonage et al do when we all have broadband and can place end-to-end VoIP calls? Luckily for them, that day isn’t near.

  3. I’ve had Vonage for two months. You need a working regular line in the house so that you can test your Vonage line to see if it receives calls and that they stay connected. If you have your Vonage hooked to a router than things get sticky. Should you use a static IP? My Vonage dropped calls are basically non-existent with a static IP# setup in the Vonage box. With the standard DHCP setup I received dropped calls. I don’t know why this was and I don’t think Vonage does either. If you need help with your Vonage you should goto http://www.dslreports.com/forum/voip . Alot of people there have developed Vonage setups that work.

  4. Wenatchee Wa.

    *As long as 5 second delay in my voice being heard by the person IÌm calling and vice versa.

    customer service was crap, sales was on the ball though for some reason. Finally a tech told me that it’s charter communications’s problem and to do the ping plotter, I also found out that the 509 area code was not Wenatchee but, Spokane, so technically, people calling me from down the street were calling long distance. Not Good, Cancelled right away. Got the money back.
    A total waste.

  5. I got this whole Vonage customer service thing started, and now I have an update: it turns out that my issues were not Vonage’s fault. After exhausting all possibilities with Vonage, Comcast came over and replaced some fittings outside the house. Comcast admitted that the corroded fittings were causing my Internet connection to be dropped. I have to say that replacing the fittings solved 99% of my problems with Vonage. I still don’t think the company or service is perfect, but there has been a dramatic improvement. Just wanted to clear the air.

  6. Dan Z. Johnson Sunday, January 18, 2004

    You should rewrite the premise for this thread, as Steves original rant tuned out to have had the carpet pulled out from underneath of it.

  7. Keith Gosselin Sunday, January 18, 2004

    I’m a huge fan of VoIP and Vonage. I recommended it to friends and so far I haven’t had any of the technical issues mentioned above. But as to “scaling”, I would agree that they need to dump some bucks into their Customer Service department. Emails go without response. You wait on the phone forever and never get any help. My issue is simple – I can’t remember my voicemail password (by the way, their online password changer doesn’t seem to work) but I can imagine if someone had serious issues they’d really be p###ed. I hope Vonage works on this because right now I’m a little nervous recommending them to anyone because of Customer Service.

  8. Michael Ellis Sunday, January 18, 2004

    I love Vonage. I have had it for over a year and have no problems with it. I have had some router problems but that was not Vonage’s fault.

    1. I have vonage for aboout a year now and I am having problems when I am on the phone and the internet at the same time. The person on the other line cannot hear me clearly on the phone but I could hear them. The vonage equipment is connected to a Linksys router. I also using an RCA modem for my broadband connection. Any advice on how to resolve the router problems? None of the companies involved is taking responsibility for the issues I am having. They are all blaming it on each other.

  9. Aswath Weblog Sunday, January 18, 2004

    It is not easy to offer QoS for VoIP calls

    Many have lined up to offer VoIP-based services. This by itself is not surprising given that barrier to entry is almost nonexistent. Everybody has heard that the capital cost is very minimal. The rollout is not problematic. The situation is…

  10. my expierence with vonage has really sucked! at first everything was fine then on the day i made my first payment my router stopped working. AND I AM GETTING THE RUN AROUND WITH TECH SUPPORT! very unhappy

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