Reviews say cable company VoIP (*Est. $12 to $60 per month, depending on package) usually provides the best call quality, but among traditional VoIP providers, Vonage earns more recommendations than any other. It's full featured with many free and inexpensive options -- for example, fax (*Est. $10 per month). The basic plan (*Est. $10 per month) includes calls within the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, and you can add a second extension for $5. More expensive plans offer unlimited calls to up to 60 countries.
You get a lot of extras with Vonage, including call waiting, caller ID, visual voice mail (messages are transcribed and sent to you by email or text) and even weather alerts. Your callers can also save money, since Vonage offers unlimited virtual phone numbers in most area codes -- plus local access numbers in many parts of the world. This means friends and family can call you from distant areas without paying long-distance charges.
Among mainstream publications, ConsumerReports.org rates the most VoIP services -- including Vonage. We found other useful comparison reviews at SpotCoolStuff.com, The New York Times, PCMag.com and Wired. TopTenReviews.com presents its 2012 VoIP service provider roundup based on reviews of the services' features, ease of use and customer support. However, it doesn't detail its testing methods. User-written reviews at DSLReports.com and WhichVoIP.com fill in useful details and surface some complaints.
This report focuses on telephone service providers, including VoIP providers. Vonage is among them, but you need a subscription to see the ratings chart.
Review: Phone Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2011
Vonage ranks fourth out of 10 VoIP services evaluated, based on a poll of nearly 20,000 readers. Optimum Online, Ooma and Verizon take the top spots.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2010: VoIP, Ben Gottesman, Sept. 7, 2010
Jill Duffy gives Vonage a rating of 3.5 out of a possible 5 stars. She praises its excellent sound quality and range of features. However, she states that it costs more than some other VoIP services.
Review: Vonage (2011), Jill Duffy, June 29, 2011
Vonage earns the No. 3 ranking among 20 VoIP providers rated here. Vonage receives full marks for service plans and features, but loses for ease of installation and help and support. However, testing procedures aren't documented.
Review: Vonage, Editors of TopTenReviews.com
Nadeem Unuth, an About.com guide, chooses Vonage as his top VoIP pick. He says that it's equally strong in both marketing and technology, though reports that some users have encountered poor customer service. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Vonage Review - VoIP Service Provider, Nadeem Unuth
This review compares Vonage with two other popular VoIP services, Skype and magicJack -- based on tests of call quality, as well as other factors. Skype is recommended for its inexpensive international calls, but Vonage provides more consistently good call quality.
Review: MagicJack vs. Vonage vs. Skype, Editors of SpotCoolStuff.com
7. The New York Times
This overview of long-distance calling options compares Vonage with Ooma, Skype and magicJack, but tests only the latter two services. Based on reputation and features, Vonage is judged a better choice.
Review: Talk Is Cheap, if You Ask, Eric A. Taub, April 29, 2009
Vonage draws a 78 percent positive rating based on user reviews drawn over the previous six months. It gets its best feedback for call quality. All other factors -- installation, tech support, value, etc. -- rate lower.
Review: Vonage, Contributors to DSLReports.com
More than 300 users review Vonage here, but at the time of our report, around 60 percent say they wouldn't recommend it to a friend. Complaints range from poor sound quality and dropped calls to unhelpful technical support and trouble canceling an account without extra fees.
Review: Vonage VoIP Review and Ratings, Contributors to WhichVoIP.com, As of May 2012