Herewith a report on signing up for and installing Vonage.
After my first month at Sun, I got a rude shock when the cellphone bill came in. I’d decided to try to boycott land-lines in the new home office, so was using the mobile for all my phoning. I hadn’t realized how much more phoning there would be as a telecommuting employee of a Big Company, and I blew the (generous, I thought) ceiling off my plan and got a $250 bill. I still didn’t want to put in another line, so I signed up for a Vonage phone, which arrived today.
The sign-up was perfectly slick, except for they only had residential plans available, so I called them up and they said “go ahead, use it for business, we don’t have any business plans available yet but we’ll pester you when we do.” If it hadn’t been for that, the whole thing could have been hands off. They shipped the Motorola net-to-phone adapter by UPS, very efficient.
VoIP is not quite ready for prime-time yet. First, the Motorola VoIP box wouldn’t sync up with the DSL because its MAC address wasn’t registered with the telco. So, I put it behind the router (which they said would cost me some sound quality), but still no dice. Okay, I got Vonage on the line and the guy (in India I bet from the accent) was pretty hip, when I said “the Motorola box won’t DHCP from the router” he said “Oh, you understand TCP/IP, this will be a lot easier.”
He didn’t have a clue why the Motorola wouldn’t DHCP and there was nothing in their knowledge base on that router and he said so. “So,” he said, “let’s fix the MAC address.” I.e., you plug the computer straight into the Motorola and point your browser at its hardwired default IP, and sure enough, there’s a menu where you can change the MAC address. Then you put the Motorola upstream of the router and everything seems to Just Work. Of course, once it was on the air it had to download firmware updates and reboot itself for half an hour, but there you go.
The sound isn’t as good as a decent land-line (why not?) but better than cellular. The number’s in Vancouver’s 604 area code, and on the road I should be able to pretend to be in that code from anywhere in the world there’s broadband. Of course, the box is absurdly large; give it a couple more years for shrinkage (I can remember when a 1200-baud modem had heat fins).
Plus, Sun gives me this wonderful AccessLine number in +1-877 that I can route to wherever, and sure enough, it’s perfectly happy to talk to the Vonage number.
It occurs to me that when someone on a cellphone calls my AccessLine and it gets routed to the Vonage and we have a talk, there is a lot of technology sloshing around, and the proportion of it that I understand is soberingly small. It is just painfully obvious that this is the future.