The Duo Give Vonage's VoIP Service a Spin

Perhaps the best-known name in VoIP service is Vonage, and the Duo review the company's plans and point out a few curious features that even longtime subscribers may have missed.

A major advantage to VoIP is price, and Vonage's basic rates are impressive--$15 per month for 500 minutes usable for calls anywhere in the United States or Canada. And $25 per month gets you unlimited calling to both countries, with international rates for much of the civilized world coming in at a reasonable 3 to 6 cents per minute above that.

As Steve points out, though, it's not only the airtime but the extras that make Vonage service an attractive deal. Phone companies have traditionally made subscribers pay additional fees for services such as call waiting, caller ID, three-way calling, repeat dialing, and transfer capabilities. Vonage throws it all in, though Angela mutters something about not wanting call waiting, even for free.

More appealing, she says, are the travel-related options, some of which may come as a surprise to even regular Vonage customers. Checking voice mail over the Web is highly appealing to anyone who's paid hotel-room telephone rates (or who can't get a decent mobile-phone signal on the road). More intriguingly, your Vonage box can actually travel with you, plugging into an available broadband connection and behaving exactly as if it were sitting in your house--even overseas--allowing you to phone home using your usual inexpensive allotment of minutes.

Time to book a vacation? Not so fast, notes Steve--too many hotels currently require users to deal with a startup screen before enabling the in-room broadband. With no screen on the Vonage box, there's no easy way to get around that snag. Worse, if you're taking your Vonage box on the road with you, you'd better expect to haul the rest of the household along--after all, what are they supposed to do for phone service if you and the phone are out wandering around the planet?

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