Vonage
Thursday June 4 2009 @ 4:57 pm

The primary phone in my home is still attached to an ‘old fashioned’ copper pair line. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. The main reason being that the copper pair line works. It works every time. I can’t remember the last time I EVER picked up my phone and wasn’t greeted with a dial tone. This includes back in 2003 when the remnants of Hurricane Isabel rolled through southern PA and knocked out our power for two days and cable service for nearly a week. Many people went without power for much longer. I distinctly remember picking up the phone several times during and after the storm to check on my parents. I had a dial tone and the call went through every time.

Cell phones as a primary aren’t really an option for us. Mainly because we seem to live in a kind of dead zone. Verizon gives us one or no bars. Incoming calls will ring but rarely have any strength and are dropped as soon as we answer. Sprint works slightly better but once you connect, do not move. As soon as you move, the call drops.

That leaves us with the IP phone type services. Again, not a great choice since they are completely dependent on two other things working. Electricity and Internet service. We would have been completely SoL during/after Isabel if we relied on a service like Vonage. Not to mention any of the other times Comcast has gone offline for whatever random reason or a electrical transformer has blown 20 miles away.

My low opinion of the Vonage type services has certainly been cemented after the past months experience trying to keep the service running at my friends house. Of all the problems I’ve been dealing with there, Vonage has been the biggest and most consistent pain. Mainly because now, with a bedridden child in the house, it has been an absolutely critical service.

The first problem started the day of the accident. A person in the house had placed a call to 911 when they realized something was wrong and were desperately trying to find information. Ever since that call was placed, every phone in the house started ringing and the Vonage caller ID would announce ‘incoming call from 911′. Constantly. All day and all night long. You would pick up the phone and there would be nothing. Not even a dial tone. You also could not make an outgoing call. Hang up the phone and the ringing and 911 announcement would start again within 30 seconds. They ended up just turning off every phone in the house.

The Vonage website suggested I CALL Vonage support. Just a slight bit of a logic problem there (Phone not working? Call us!). Finally, after many reboots of the Vonage base unit (and cable modem just to be sure), the 911 problem magically stopped.

Then the cable service went out for a day.

Then the cable service went out again.

Then there was a power problem in the basement that not only took the Vonage base unit offline, but also took the freezer (and everything inside) with it.

I should also point out that while they have a security system, it is dependent on the phone line for it to work properly. If the cable was out or the Vonage system was screwed up again, the panic button would be about as helpful as a rock.

I’ve suggested they call the phone company and go back to a landline. It’s more expensive, but it works. Plain and simple.