Skype, Gizmo or Vonage?
This past weekend my bride was out of town and I invested oh, say, 15 hours in voice over internet protocol (VoIP) testing. It wasn’t pretty and I’d like to share my experience with you in case you’re considering Skype or Gizmo for actual telephone usage.
I was a very early adopter of Vonage back in 2001. At that point I liked it and was pretty pleased with the capability (and promise of being able to take my Vonage ATA box with me, connecting it to any high speed connection, and getting my phone calls).
My all-you-can-eat use in North America, for $24.95, is great but it’s another $9.95 per month for the “soft phone” (an application to use your Vonage number from a computer, say, a laptop in a Wifi-enabled coffee shop or hotel room). Rather than do that, I thought I’d join the other 100 million users (alleged on the Skype site) and use “SkypeOut” minutes to call landlines or mobile phones.
I also thought I’d try the Gizmo Project. Why? Skype is a proprietary protocol and Gizmo leverages the Session Initiation Protocol (called “SIP”) and there is a huge amount of energy around it…though it’s not nearly as mature as Skype and is light years away from Vonage. I can still see how SIP is gathering steam and I spent hours on forums, reading about it, looking at equipment at VoIP online stores, and realizing that — once quality of service issues are worked out — there’s going to be an explosion of SIP products and services.
Purchasing a $10 SkypeOut credit and the same in Gizmo “Call Out” credits, I went to work testing them. Using my high end Logitech headset or my new $179 Jabra Bluetooth headset (when connecting to my laptop) I called friends and family in a wide variety of configuration setups. I even stopped by CompUSA and bought the SkyTone USB phone, thinking I’d plug it in to my laptop and answer calls from it on the road rather than futzing with headsets.
I tried 3 way calling. Conference calling. Dialing out to mobile phones. Setting up simultaneous ringing. All kinds of things. While the quality on Skype or Gizmo was roughly the same (though Gizmo consistently had echo that my other party could hear), it was never good enough for me to consider using it as my primary phone. Skype-to-Skype or Gizmo-to-Gizmo was fine, but most of the use for me would be calling landlines or mobile phones. For that, it sucked.
What about Vonage? Though their customer support is worse than Qwest (the pinnacle of horrible customer service), I consistently found myself hanging up from SkypeOut or Gizmo CallOut and calling back in to the conference call or the other person. I now realize that I’m sticking with Vonage, their quality of service is on-par with traditional, plain old telephone service, and I may even buy some of their stock post-upcoming-IPO.
When I think about how much effort I put into figuring out if either SkypeOut or Gizmo CallOut were ready for prime-time (they’re not), I realize how incredibly simple Vonage has made VoIP and this is what I’d recommend to anyone considering going with this method of telephony.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.