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Vonage

The most subscribed-to VoIP service not affiliated with a traditional phone company, Vonage offers four basic monthly phone plans. These range from the $14.99 Basic 500, with 500 free monthly minutes to the U.S. and Canada, to the $49.99 Small Business Unlimited, which offers all the calling minutes you want to the U.S. and Canada.

I chose the $24.99 Premium Unlimited (Figure 6), which includes unlimited North American calling, but without a few of the exotic features of Small Business Unlimited.

Vonage Premium Unlimited Plan Features

Figure 6: Vonage Premium Unlimited Plan Features
(click image to enlarge)

Premium Unlimited offers some standard calling features, plus some other free features that are not available in some competing products. Voicemail Plus is the most interesting. With Voicemail Plus, you can get your e-mail messages played back to you, over your VoIP connection. The colorfully named BlastMe feature rings several numbers simultaneously.

The ordering process was straightforward, but did include a rather lengthy disclaimer noting the inconsistencies in which local jurisdictions are able to handle 911 calls placed from VoIP phones. Availability of this information was rather buried in the Terms & Conditions disclaimer, and took some reading to reach.

As I determined during the order process, Vonage's shining light is near-ubiquitous local number availability. If many of your callers are local, well, that's important.

Arrival and installation of the Linksys router and associated components went smoothly, as did the calls I placed.

Unlike some other services, they do not offer international minutes as part of their calling plans. International calls are inexpensive (3 cents a minute to U.K. land lines, for instance) but I feel some of that should be bundled in.

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