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January 17, 2005

How's it linGOing?

Allright, I'll probably stop trying the cutesy play on words in the blog entry title on these posts - I can't seem to do much as much with "lingo" as I'd like...

Alas, however - this is the update to the great voip broadband phone service test. In my last post on the topic, I had successfully signed up for Lingo's Unlimited Home Plan - $19.95 per month.

On Saturday, the required appliance arrived. Setup took a modest 10 minutes or so - and that includes unpacking the various components. Not that there are a lot.

Essentially, there is the voip appliance itself, which looks much like any cable or dsl modem. A power adapter for the device. One RJ45 ethernet cable. Three standard RJ11 phone cords. That's it.

There was no software to install. I just followed the "Advanced Installation Instructions" which applied to my network configuration - "Computers connected to a router or wireless router with a free port on the router":

  1. Turn off your computer, cable/DSL modem and router
  2. Plug ethernet cable into the "WAN" port on Lingo adaptor
  3. Connect other end of ethernet cable to free port on router
  4. Take any standard analog phone and plugh the phone cord into the Lingo appliance phone jack (there are three available)
  5. Reconnect and power up cable/DSL modem - wait 2 minutes
  6. Reconnect and power up router - wait 2 minutes
  7. Plug power cord into Lingo appliance - wait 5-10 minutes
  8. Turn on your computer.
  9. Pick up phone - if dial tone present - installation successful.

Easy sneezy - as AJ, my first-grader, would say. Setup went without a hitch. Two minutes later I was placing long distance calls - testing the service.

While researching alternaitves to Vonnage, I had come across reviews of that service by some folks who clearly had some trouble. Dropped calls - poor quality, etc... I'm sure this is not specific to Vonnage - I get the feeling that they offer a great service. Users with all providers are likely to have various experiences. Those comments didn't lead me away from Vonnage - I couldn't use Vonnage for other reasons - they just helped set my expectations for performance. I wasn't sure if I should expect some weird nearly-synchronous conversation, or some asynchronous walkie-talkie like performance, or just like what I get from my current telco.

That said, our initial testing - while minimal - has been solid.

Joie called her Grandma and after the conversation told her about the new service and asked her about the quality. Grandma thought the call was clearer than normal. That's one good test. Otherwise, I've had a lenghty conversation to St. Louis as well as one to New Hampshire. Both of which I didn't mention Lingo, and tacitly take the fact that they heard me clearly and I heard them clearly as evidence of good performance. No static. Very clear. No delay or echo.

I did also purchase a new phone for use with the service, a GE 2.4GHz model with two handsets. This was to make it easier for Joie to use the line for her long distance calling as well. Neither of us will be hunting around for a single handset this way. I mention this only because Joie's only "complaint" so far is some "echo". As far as I can tell, this is the phone and not the service - I think the phone mouthpiece catches a lot more ambient noise and the user gets that feedback. I've noticed it a tad, but not too much.

So far, I'm giving the service an "A" grade, only because we haven't used it enough to really put it to the test. I had high expectations (A grade or better) and nothing has occured to demerit our experience at this point.

Oh, and the payout? Well, the Lingo plan I'm on is a flat $19.95 per month, as mentioned, and includes unlimited long distance in the US and Canada. It also includes about every feature under the sun - voice mail, call-waiting, call-forwarding, etc... My last Qwest bill, just for the convenient "second-line" at my home office, including long distance charges: $52.40. This months bill, with no long distance charges: $32.95. So, even with no long distance, I'm saving ~40% off my bill! I can't wait to see the long distance charges drop on our primary phone line when Joie uses Lingo for a month!

So far so good! Broadband voip could just be the revolution we think it is, we shall see. We'll keep you posted here on our experience.

Posted by gcrgcr at January 17, 2005 11:18 AM

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