While Vonage and Skype both use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to provide telephone-like voice communications over the Internet, the two go about it in different ways. Vonage uses a hardware adapter that allows users on any telephone to make VoIP calls. Skype is software, and most users install it for use on a computer or mobile phone. Vonage uses Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to handle call data. Skype uses its own proprietary protocol. As a result, phones built for one are incompatible with the other.
Skype is software and it can take advantage of the adaptability of computers when installed. Skype users can make video calls, make conference calls, and hold text chats. You can even send files to another Skype user.
Skype is more than fancy instant messaging, however. For a fee, you can use Skype to call land-line and mobile telephone lines, and for a different fee you can obtain a number for receiving incoming calls.
Skype sells a number of devices that operate with the service.
The RTX Dualphone 3088's cordless handset communicates via a base station that plugs into a router. The Dualphone uses built-in Skype software and can operate independently of a computer.
Skype also sells multimedia phones from Grandstream and VoSKY. These phones connect via Ethernet. The VoSKY can also connect via built-in Wi-Fi, a capability the Grandstream needs an adapter to achieve. These multimedia phones work somewhat like large, deskbound smart phones. The VoSKY has a touchscreen but no handset. Grandstream's device has a typical telephone's wired handset.
Businesses that wish to take advantage of Skype can use Skype-based Grandstream PBX systems.
Vonage's business model focuses on the Vonage devices, which connect standard phones to VoIP communication. Vonage does also offer Vonage Softphone, software that allows any Windows or Mac computer to use the Vonage network. Unlike Skype, you can't use the software for free calling between users. Mobile apps let you use Vonage on Apple and Android smart phones.
Vonage offers dozens of devices for sale. Most of those let you link phones and VoIP; some, like the Vonage Boxand the Vonage V-Portal, with Internet routers built in. To use them, just plug in an Ethernet cable and your household phone.
A few products come with their own handsets, including the only two Vonage-branded systems. The Vonage VDV21-CVR and VTA-CVR function similarly to others in this format, although the latter offers no Internet networking.
The UTStarcom F1000 looks and works much differently than all the other devices that Vonage touts. The F1000 looks like a chunky mobile phone. It connects to any accessible Wi-Fi hotspot and lets the user make Vonage calls that way. You can make a call on your Vonage account anywhere in the world you can hook into Wi-Fi.
None of these devices can be used with Skype.
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