Skype vs. Vonage: The 30 second VoIP comparison!

by : Louis Philip

In the world of VoIP you have two basic options; you can get the "regular phone replacement with lower monthly phone bills" option (Vonage) or you can get the "plug a phone into my computer and it costs me nothing" option (Skype).

If you go for Vonage, everything works pretty much like it works today with your home phone. The main differences are:

1) Your phone bill is somewhere between 15$ to 25$ a month.
2) You get inexpensive long distance rates, free if you are talking to another customer who uses Vonage.
3) You get a bunch of features included in the price. (VoiceMail, Call Forwarding, Caller ID, Call Waiting etc..)
4) You have a "box" that sits between your computer and your internet connection. (This box will cost you 50$ to 100$)

You will keep your current phone number. You will have 911 service (FCC has mandated that VoIP providers such as Vonage provide full 911 service by ~September, 2005). You will have a nice web interface to all your fancy new phone features. You will get some pretty good customer service. If you want to keep your regular phone wiring you can do that too, though you will need to be a bit of a handyman type.

On top of this, you get some nifty extra benefits. For example, if you travel frequently you can take your "box" with you, plug it into any internet connection, plug a phone into the box and it's like you are sitting at home with your telephone!

Finally, Vonage is a reasonably large, aggressive company. This means they want your business and they are willing to fight for it. You can expect their prices to be competitive and to remain competitive. For more information you can go to their web site . Don't forget that you should already have a high speed internet connection before using Vonage (or Skype).

Now, if you go for the "plug a phone into my computer and it costs me nothing" option then you want Skype. Skype is free, Skype is easy to use and Skype works. All you have to do is download, install and start using it. It is completely painless. If you are like me, you will start using Skype because you want to stop paying for long distance. My mother lives in the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic it costs a lot of money to call North America. I told her to get Skype, now she calls me all time. Good thing Skype has VoiceMail!

After you get used to paying nothing for long distance, you will begin discovering some of Skype's other options. As of June, 2005 Skype has the following options:

1) You can get Skype Voicemail for ~18$ a year (that is about ~1.50$ per month)

2) You can call almost any phone number on the planet for 2 cents a minute, half of what Vonage charges! (Skype to Skype calls are free)

3) You can get an incoming phone number for around ~50$ a year (that is only 4$ per month and they throw in voicemail for free! Remember, unlike Vonage which gives you a phone number when you agree to pay the 15$-25$ a month, Skype starts you off for free but will only give you a phone number when you start paying them 4$ a month. I started off using Skype for free since I was only making Skype to Skype calls at first)

4) You get a bunch of features included for free (conference calling with up to 50 people, Caller ID, Call Waiting ...)

5) There are tons of "add-ons" (also know as "plug-ins") for Skype, many of them are free. You can get a Skype Answering machine, you can have Skype integrated into Microsoft Outlook or you can even start Podcasting with Skype.

6) There are lots of Skype communities. You can meet people for fun and conversation, you can meet people to learn new languages, and you can even meet people for "Skype-Sex".

7) Last, but not least, Skype has instant messaging and file sharing.

Once you get going with Skype you will find that it starts to grow on you. I haven't replaced my regular phone with Skype, but it has become my second phone line and I use it frequently. At work I use Skype all the time. Since I'm already sitting at my computer it is much more convenient to talk with my team members using Skype than picking up the phone and giving them a call.

However, Skype does not have 911 service, nor would I expect it to have 911 service until 2007. Skype does not have good customer service. To be fair, they are growing really fast. They are getting 150,000 new users everyday, can you imagine trying to have great customer service when you are getting 150,000 new users signing up every single day?

Nonetheless, if you are like me you will find that Skype is the easiest choice to make. I wasn't ready to cancel my home phone and I wasn't ready to commit to paying a company a monthly fee, I simply wanted to stop paying for long distance. After that I got hooked!

If you are interested in Skype, then download Skype for free at

Once you have Skype, you can . There you will find all the Skype add-ons (or plug-ins) that you want, you will find links to dozens of different Skype phones along with reviews and comments by users and you will find links to all the different Skype community sites on the web.