Vonage is a company that offers telephone service over your broadband Internet connection. With Vonage, you don't need a normal telephone connection in your home. All you need is a high speed Internet connection (DSL or cable) and a phone adapter box made by any of several different companies. You can initiate and receive telephone calls just as you would with any other phone. The one difference is pricing: Vonage is a lot cheaper than the local telephone company's rates. For details, see http://www.vonage.com.
NOTE: For this article, I will ignore the fact that DSL runs on normal telephone lines. You do not have to pay for standard telephone service even on DSL lines. You can purchase DSL and still not have a regular telephone in your home.
I have been using Vonage for years and can report that it works well. I did recently upgrade to a Linksys PAP2 phone adapter for my Vonage service and am glad that I did. The old phone adapter worked rather well but fidelity was a bit lacking and occasionally I received garbled connections. After about six weeks of use with the PAP2, I can report that the fidelity is now much better than even the local phone company's service and that garbled connections never happen any more.
Vonage heavily promotes a service plan that offers unlimited telephone calls anywhere in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico. (even if you happen to be in Bombay or Shanghai or Rio de Janeiro) for $24.99 a month. That is a good deal if you make a lot of long-distance calls. With one exception discussed below, I don't make all that many telephone calls.
After investigating Vonage's $24.99 a month plan, I found a better deal for me. It may or may not be a better deal for you, depending upon your telephone calling habits.
Vonage offers a second plan for $14.99 a month that includes "only" 500 minutes of calling to anyplace in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico. That's an average of 16 minutes a day which doesn't sound like much. However, it may be enough for many people. In addition, calls placed from one Vonage phone to another Vonage phone anywhere in the world are always free of charge; those calls do not count against the 500 minutes in the $14.99 a month plan.
Next, more than 50% of my long-distance telephone calls are placed to only one number that happens to be on the other side of the country from me. I do use more than 500 minutes per month of long-distance calls but the majority of those minutes are for calls to only one number. The person at that number also calls me frequently. That person also happens to have cable television and a high speed cable modem for Internet access.
Here's my plan: purchase TWO Vonage phones on the $14.99 a month plan. One is installed at my house and the other at the second location that I call frequently. For a total cost of $29.98 a month, we have TWO telephones that can call each other free of charge all the time plus each gets another 500 minutes of use calling other people anywhere in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico. That's 1,000 minutes total for the two of us.
We replaced two regular phones from the telephone companies that cost a lot more than $29.98 a month (in total) and we get free phone calls to each other to boot! In this case, the expenditure of $29.98 for two lower-priced Vonage phone connections worked out to be a better deal for us than the use of one higher-priced Vonage phone at one location plus a (high priced) regular phone from a traditional telephone company at the second location.
In short, we would be paying more money for two regular phone lines than what we are paying now. The use of Vonage also is far more convenient; we do not need to leave our computers running all the time. Vonage acts just like a regular telephone and does not require a computer to operate, only a broadband connection.
Of course, we could have obtained completely free Internet voice service, such as Skype or one of its competitors. However, these free services do not offer free calls to and from regular telephones. While we could have conversed with each other at no charge via Skype, we still would need regular telephones or extra-cost Skype-In and Skype-Out for all of our other calls. Those did not seem like very attractive options.
You might look at your present phone bill and figure out just where you are spending your long-distance dollars. If you regularly call a certain relative or friend, the deal I have described may be better for both of you.
Vonage also has some other advantages. More information can be found at http://www.vonage.com.