Vonage alternatives?

For the thousandth time, the call-forwarding/simultaneous ring feature of Vonage mysteriously stopped working, and also for the thousandth time, customer support informed me that the solution to my problem is to disable it, re-enable it, and then leave my Vonage box unplugged for two minutes. This is nearly as awesome as when call-forwarding stopped working at the same time that email and text message notifications of voicemail stopped working; I only lost about a month of calls on that one. My conclusion is that Vonage’s software sucks, and it’s not going to get better. The irony is that they have some really awesome features, like automatic voice-to-text transcription – although I guess it’s not ironic, it’s just normal featuritis at the expense of software quality.

So I’m switching away from Vonage and looking for a new VoIP provider. My current setup is that I have two VoIP numbers which go to the same line. Calls to these two numbers (theoretically) ring my cell phone at the same time. The features I need are simultaneous ring, virtual numbers, and the ability to transfer my current two phone numbers.

I already have Comcast for cable internet, so getting service through them is $20/month. But they can’t do multiple/virtual numbers, at least not unless the area code matches your location (and given that I have two different area codes on the virtual numbers, that will never work). On the other hand, there are cheap virtual phone number forwarding services (or so I hear), so perhaps Comcast in combination with a forwarding service will work.

What I would *really* like is for my cell and my VoIP lines to all be integrated into one happy family, where calls to any of the three numbers rings both cell and VoIP phones, voicemail goes to one place, and notification of voicemail goes to my cell, the VoIP phone, and email. I’m quite certain such a company would break some sort of federal regulation, though.

So, faithful readers, what do you use for phone service? Suggestions?

13 thoughts on “Vonage alternatives?

  1. (But I don’t think they do VOIP. So I guess it’s everything in your wishlist except for the main feature…)

  2. Thanks, I was trying to remember the name of that service! I’m happy to buy minimal VoIP from Comcast and tack something on top, so good suggestion. But what I really need is for calls to multiple existing numbers to simultaneously ring my cell and my VoIP handset, so GrandCentral doesn’t really help since it creates a new number that forwards to a bunch of other numbers. I need to have a separate business and person number at minimum.

    I’ve been fighting with this problem for about 4 years now. Here are my attempted solutions and the problems with each:

    * Immediately forward VoIP calls to my cell. If I have bad cell reception, I don’t get calls (and I’ve lived in a lot of places with bad cell reception). If the forwarding breaks, I don’t get any rings and it goes to VoIP voicemail. If VoIP voicemail notifcation (email, SMS) is broken, I lose months of calls without noticing.

    * Ring VoIP for N rings then forward to cell. It takes twice as long for voicemail to pick up if you want a decent amount of time to answer either phone, and I had people telling me they just gave up on my voicemail answering ever.

    * Forward cell to VoIP if my cell is unavailable, set VoIP to simulring the cell. Ha ha! This one was funny – since VoIP knew that the cell was an alternate number for the VoIP, it would send the call directly to voicemail, since clearly you only call your own number to check voicemail.

    * Simulring my cell and my VoIP for my two VoIP numbers. Even when Vonage is working, if my cell doesn’t have reception or is off, it goes straight to cell voicemail. More often, it’s just not working.

    Sigh. I just want systems integration.

  3. Do you know Jon Masters? He’s the king of voip as far as I’m concerned. He does something that works just like you described… with the two numbers being not just in two area codes, but in two countries. He might not read your diary, so just e-mail him and blame me for the tip.

  4. A request

    I’ve got a similar setup to yours, and I have one additional problem with it. If you try to call the voip number from the cell, it goes straight to voice mail. This is not what I want, as I may actually need to call home and talk to someone there. Like my wife. Who is never amused that I cannot call home for technology reasons.

    Please keep us updated as you dig through this. You aren’t the only one with this kind of wish list.

  5. Oh yeah, and I want people to be able to send text messages to any of my numbers and have them forwarded to my cell phone. I know, crazy talk.

  6. Jon runs a colo box running something like FreePBX/Asterisk and does it all inhouse. I presume he uses a register line to bring in third party telephone numbers.

    His site is http://www.jonmasters.org and he’s recently (last year or two) moved fomr merry old England to exciting new East Coast USA working for RedHat.

  7. Hi Val,

    I have the same setup with Vonage and it works fine. However, it had started breaking in other weird ways. I got a new Vonage router and it fixed it (actually I picked the box that is NOT a router, because having a router behind a router was annoying.) That fixed all my issues. You may want to consider switching boxes before jumping ship. I found another Vonage box on craigslist for $10.


  8. Good ol’ Vonage…

    Nice blog. I run a VoIP company myself based in Coeur d Alene, Idaho. Check it out sometime at http://www.convertecsolutions.com. I would much a ppreciate it.

    My personal blog about telecom issues is at adamjohnson.org, and happend to have just blogged about Vonage myself!

  9. Disabling touchpad while typing

    I am using the `syndaemon’ effectively on Ubuntu 8.10. I believe it should be available on Fedora as well since I did see this one on RHEL5.

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