Saturday, April 16, 2005

This is not a paid endorsement

The telephone companies must be shaking in their boots.

I finally had a high-speed internet connection installed at home in March, and on the heels of that I switched my phone service to Vonage. I cut my bill in half and gained a bunch of features (caller ID, call waiting, three way calling, voice mail, e-mail notifications with voice mail messages attached). At worst, the cost of land line and dial-up internet service equals the price for Road Runner and Vonage. I don't think I have to tell you which combination delivers superior results.

It took some time for my phone number to switch from SBC's land line to VOIP through Vonage, but once it did, SBC has tried like the dickens to get me back. In April I have received almost a call a day from the SBC sales department. I talked to a salesperson about a week ago and explained I had switched to Vonage and was happy with the service. I figured that would be the end of it, at least for awhile. Nope. The calls continue to come. Today I talked to another salesperson who attempted to convince me that a land line would be helpful in instances of power outages. True enough, but I have a cell phone. (And how often do I lose power or does the cable go down? Not that often.) Oh yeah, your reduced rate offer is still more than what I pay per month and doesn't offer all the advantages of VOIP. Please put me on your do-not-call list.

Vonage's service, or VOIP in general, doesn't yet make sense for everyone. Those in some areas of the country can't carry over their current phone numbers or establish local numbers. Then there's the pesky issue of needing a high-speed internet connection. Owning a cell phone would be a good idea in the event that the power goes out. That said, the ability to port numbers from one service to another should increase. More people will migrate to high-speed internet service over dial-up. Cell phones are already one of the most common tech gadgets. Since consumers love getting more for less, which is what VOIP offers, the traditional phone companies are fighting an uphill battle. While I don't envision a time when land lines will cease to be used, it seems like we're headed in that direction. Ma Bell better find a way to keep up with the times.

Addendum: My brother Philip wanted credit for selling me on switching to Vonage, so here it is. He also points out that a battery back-up would permit you to use the phone during a power outage but not if the cable service goes down.

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