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May 19, 2008

Vonage Talk – Better Than I Thought

Vonage Talk can receive phone calls that are dialed to your home or business Vonage phone. Vonage Talk is a new "Alpha" service from Vonage which creates the ability to link PC client software to a Vonage account. This capability points the way – still a long way – to the end of outrageous cellular roaming costs.

Suppose you're in your hotel room somewhere on the other side of the world. Assuming you have a broadband connection (a good assumption because otherwise you would have had to leave the hotel room to get any work done), you fire up the Vonage Talk client on your PC. The Vonage Talk client is linked to whatever Vonage account you used to sign in. If the Vonage phone back home which belongs to that account rings, the Vonage client "rings" as well; it even gives you caller ID. If it's a call you want, you answer; if not, it goes to voice mail.

What's this "roaming" capability cost? Nothing! Same thing it costs you to make outgoing calls to many places using Vonage Talk wherever you are.

This is not the same as forwarding calls. When you do that, you have to pay for the outbound second leg of the call. Moreover, forwarding isn't practical to a hotel or office switchboard and you can't forward to an extension. But, if you are monitoring your home phone line on Vonage Talk, you can answer from a hotel room or borrowed office. Your privacy is maintained; the caller has no idea that you're not wherever your primary phone is.

BTW, this isn't the same as using Skype IN – it's better. Skype IN does allow people to reach you by calling a PSTN number but it's a special number only useful for Skype IN calls. Who wants to have yet one more number to give out?

Obviously this isn't as functional as getting calls on your mobile phone when you travel since you have to be connected somewhere with your PC on – could be a wifi hotspot – in order to make or receive calls. But there are two big advantages: you don't need to give anyone your mobile phone number in order to be reachable AND you eliminate potentially huge bills for cellular roaming – particularly if you're travelling internationally.

Blogged previously about Vonage Talk for outgoing call but mistakenly thought it wasn't useful for incoming. Hat tip to Dan Berninger for helping me get this straight.

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