When the FCC allowed cell phone users to move their number from telecommunications provider to telecommunications provider, it seemed liked a revolutionary concept. But wrap your mind around this one: a broadband phone that allows you to take your number anywhere on the planet and make calls at one fixed monthly rate.
Here’s how Vonage works. Say you’re in a Madrid hotel on a business trip and need to call stateside. Attach one end of the phone adapter (provided with the service) to a high-speed Internet connection, plug a standard phone into the adapter and make calls as if you were at home using your own number—no overseas charges, just the $34.95 monthly fee that allows for unlimited long-distance calls in the United States and Canada. If people want to call you, they dial your number and incur only the charges they would have had they called you at home. When you’re at home calling overseas, you enjoy low rates, such as five cents a minute to London and six cents a minute to Tokyo (calls to other Vonage subscribers are free).
Vonage essentially creates a virtual phone line no matter where you are. In fact, your phone number doesn’t have to indicate where you live at all, as you can choose from area codes across the country. So you could, say, live in New York but have a Palm Springs area code. Furthermore, caller IDs read your calls as though you were home, not vacationing in Bora Bora or wherever. For an extra fee ($4.99) you can add virtual phone numbers that act as secondary numbers that ring to your main number. A New York–based firm that does a lot of business in Dallas could register an area code there so Texan customers could call the main office for free.
As untethered to your home as Vonage is, it still delivers the high-fidelity sound quality that you get from a land line and you don’t need special computer skills to use it. Standard phone features operate on Vonage as well as others that can be managed through your online phone accountant.