Voice over IP solutions hold a lot of promise for travelling workers. Recently my cell phone bills have skyrocketed and to combat that we've adopted Yahoo Messenger's voice conferencing which has been pretty effective. It starts to break down as you add more users into the call though. All of the solutions that I have been trying don't do well behind firewalls and especially in proxied network environments. So the quest for a good VOIP solution for Road Warriors continues. This one looks promising in that it also supports regular telephone connections too:
A new service called Vonage offers a completely different approach to Internet telephony. It still uses your high-speed Internet connection, but instead of a desktop computer, you make your phone calls using a special “telephone adaptor” that’s about the size of a trade paperback. You plug this adaptor into your home network’s hub or router, and into the wall for power. Then just plug a standard telephone into the adaptor and you’re ready to go.
The Vonage adaptor is a tiny digital-telephone branch office in a box. It provides the dial tone when you pick up your phone and rings the bell when there is an incoming call. It digitizes your voice and sends it over the Internet to Vonage’s servers, where calls are transferred to the same public telephone network that traditional telephones and cell phones use. Indeed, unlike NetMeeting, Skype, and the others, Vonage lets you make real telephone calls to other phone numbers. Vonage also provides you with your own phone number that anybody can call.
Another difference between it and the others is that Vonage costs real money—but not much. The basic plan offers 500 minutes of calling anywhere in the United States and Canada for $15 a month. That plan includes caller ID, voice mail, call forwarding, and other features that phone companies typically charge extra for. Unlimited local calling with 500 minutes of long distance is $25 a month. For $35 a month, you can have unlimited calling anywhere in the country. Plus, the adaptor has two phone jacks on its back, allowing you to add a second phone number for a fax machine or your kids for a small additional fee.