Thu, 12 Feb 2004

Vonage VoIP

I signed up for Vonage Voice Over IP (VoIP) telephone service. The Vonage service allows you to make and receive telephone calls using your normal phone over the Internet. It can supplement or completely replace your telco service.

Yesterday I received my Vonage installation kit including a Motorola VT1000 Voice Terminal. How does it work? Too good. I've always had a hum on my phones at home. With my Qwest telco service, the hum seemed to get filtered out. With the VT1000 digitizing the signal, the hum comes through on the other end crystal clear. I'll have to track down exactly where the hum is coming from and eliminate it.

Contrary to the installation instructions, I connected the VT1000 behind my Linux firewall. Absolutely no setup was required that way. I connected the VT100 WAN port to my home LAN. The VT1000 acquired an IP address from my DHCP sever and established a connection with Vonage.

I did need to configure the firewall to forward outbound UDP packets to destination ports 5060-5061, 69, and 10000-20000 as indicated in Vonage Installation Guide, Appendix B. In addition, I discovered the VT1000 was attempting to connect to external time servers on UDP port 37. I opened the port on the firewall but also provided the service internally and added an appropriate DHCP option for it. I haven't checked yet to see if it is polling my own, internal time server based on that change or if it is still polling an external time server.

When I get time, I'll have to establish a connection to the VT1000's LAN port and explore the configuration options. Perhaps I can specify a time server there.

I'm thrilled with the features and functionality of the Vonage service. It worked great from inside the firewall at the office and from my home network. Voice mail is substantially better than on my Qwest line.

I will be replacing my Qwest service with Vonage, porting my old number over, saving $30 per month and getting some great new features. I will find e-mail notification of voice-mail messages particularly useful. Right now, I have the notifications sent to my cell phone. I intend to set up an e-mail address that can distribute the messages to my cell phone and/or Jenny's based on the number of the caller.

I'm sure I'll have more to share when I've had more time to play.

Vonage has a Refer-A-Friend Program. I don't intend to spam all my family and friends with referrals. If, however, you decide to use Vonage, definitely use the referral program. It gets you and the referrer a free month. If you'd like a referral from me, just drop me an e-mail requesting one.

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