While Voice over Internet Protocol is an inexpensive solution to the landline telephone, there are a number of ways that you can find yourself with subpar or no service at all -- typically at the most inconvenient times. Where a traditional phone line with a basic phone can be depended on even when the power goes out, VoIP lines are a bit more high maintenance.
When you make a call using your VoIP line you are using bandwidth over your Internet connection. And like any other Internet-based utility, it can slow down and lose quality when you have multiple bandwidth-heavy operations running. While you can surf the Web and talk on the phone without any noticeable quality loss, if you're running a download or streaming video, you may notice that your calls suffer in terms of sound quality including echos, jitters and data loss that can result in lost conversation.
VoIP provider Vonage requires that your Internet connection be active; if the Internet goes out you will not be able to use your phone. Additionally, if the power supply to your modem, router or VoIP adapter fails, you will not be able to make calls.
Your VoIP line is dependent on four different pieces of hardware: your modem, your router, your VoIP adapter and your phone. You will not be able to use your VoIP line if any one of these items breaks down. There are also more cables to keep track of: your modem to your router, your router to your adapter and your adapter to your phone. If your VoIP line goes down, you'll want to make sure all these connections are properly secured and the cables in good condition.
If you have a cellphone you shouldn't be too concerned about your VoIP line going out in an emergency -- your cellphone service can fill the gap if anything goes wrong. Some VoIP ISPs, including ITP and Vonage, allow you to set a forwarding number for calls to ring through if your VoIP number is down due to loss of Internet or power. All your calls should still go to your VoIP voice mail, if your messages are recorded to voice mail and not on a traditional answering machine.
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