Vonage has crossed the chasm

You know you are no longer on the bleeding edge of things when you learn about new technology, like Vonage, from your non-technical neighbors.

After years of using and promoting technology that wasn’t ready for prime time, I have become a semi-Luddite and adopt new things only when they are stable, well supported, and have an immediate payoff.

Vonage, an internet telephone system, is all of these and more. While it may not be ready for your grandmother, it is a credible alternative to conventional phone system for anyone with a high speed internet connection.

For $29.99 a month, I have unlimited calling within the US and Canada. I am looking forward to chatting with Wayne Hurlbert and other far-flung blogging friends now that it will not push my phone bill to astronomical levels.

The voice quality is excellent and the features that cost extra with Sprint are included in the base price. Vonage provides an excellent customer experience, once you get it installed. The customer support people are so friendly and helpful, it almost makes up for the fact that their support lines are often jammed with other callers.

There are just three problem areas they need to handle:
1. Equipment purchased from a retail store may be difficult to activate because of problems with the unit’s MAC address.
2. Remapping of this MAC address needs to be simplified
3. Configuring the phone adapter/router needs to be simplified for situations where you have an existing LAN and router with multiple computers.

I was able to work through this with the help of their support people, but it needs to be made easier in order for internet telephones to become mainstream.

We did only one phone line to begin with, but we will transfer our other line to Vonage without delay. If I were a phone company executive, I would be sweating bullets, and would be preparing to convert residential accounts to VOIP rather than lose them.

It will be a time of great opportunity for some …and panic for others.

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