Jeremy Stein - Journal

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Rochester VOIP

To save money, I decided to switch to VOIP. The big player is Vonage. They spend huge amounts on advertising and charge $25/month for unlimited calling. There are several other companies that offer $20/month calling but are less well-known. I decided to pick one of those. I chose Packet8, partly because they told me they had Enhanced 911 (E-911) in my area. Vonage was still rolling it out.

So, I signed up and got the phone adapter in the mail.

Packet 8 Vonage
$20/month $25/month
911 doesn’t work. At all. (E-911 not available, despite sales claim) This might be resolved by now 911 works, but doesn’t send your address to the call center. Update: E-911 is now live
Very noticeable delay during conversations. Delay not noticeable.
Must dial 11 digits:
1-585-224-8161
May dial 7, 10, or 11 digits:
224-8161
585-224-8161
1-585-224-8161
Dial 012-0555 for voicemail Dial *123 for voicemail.
Receive an email upon voicemail.
Listen to voicemails over the internet.
Lousy web site. Hard to navigate. Doesn’t do much. Great web site. Easy to use. Change phone options, view call history, listen to voicemail, etc.

The issue with delay was not resolved. My first phone call to technical support resulted in a lot of router tweaking, but it didn’t do any good. The problem occurs even when the phone adapter is connected directly to the cable modem (cutting off my PC). This is definitely an issue with Packet 8. I sent two follow-up emails. Packet 8 promised a call from a level 2 technical support representative. I waited a few weeks without hearing from them and then switched to Vonage. Ah… life is so much better.

I also learned a couple other lessons:

Packet 8 Vonage
$59 disconnect fee after first 30 days (will not waive for unresolved technical support issues) $40 disconnect fee refunded when you return the device.
No lower-cost option $15/month for 500 minutes. 3 cents a minute for additional minutes.

Since I don’t use much more than 500 minutes/month anyhow, Vonage is not only better, it’s also cheaper!

Update: (2006-Sep-13)
Actually, it turns out I do use more than 500 minutes/month. (Well, I don’t, but someone in the household does…).

By the way, my actual bill breaks down something like this (updated 2007-Dec-13):

Premium Unlimited Plan $24.99
Regulatory Recovery Fee $0.99
Emergency 911 Cost Recovery $0.99
Sales Tax $2.38
Federal Universal Service Fee $2.02
State Excise Tax $0.74
State Franchise Surcharge Sec. 184 $0.11
Total Amount $32.22

The other VOIP companies charge similar fees in addition to their advertised rates.

October 12, 2005 3 Comments.

3 Comments

  1. Shannon replied:

    but of course you have to use Vonage for long enough to make up for the disconnect fee!

    October 13th, 2005 at 7:05 am. Permalink.

  2. Benjamin replied:

    Anyone bother to type in Rochester VOIP into google lately? This post is listed first.

    August 23rd, 2006 at 2:34 pm. Permalink.

  3. Benjamin replied:

    My Rochester Vonage service now has enhanced 911. They are tacking on a $1 fee for it on my monthly bill. I have even had the opportunity to verify with a 911 operator that they received it.

    December 23rd, 2006 at 9:57 am. Permalink.

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