During our informal VoiceWing tests, we did experience occasional interference, sometimes to the point where we had to hang up and redial to continue the conversation. Upstream traffic was the culprit: callers on the other end of the line reported crackling and echoing in our voice. Incoming voice traffic sounded clear call after call, even during long data downloads. Luckily, VoiceWing comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can check out the service yourself before fully committing. For more information regarding voice quality, click here for CNET Labs' tests.
The VoiceWing adapter also has a second phone port should you want to run a phone to another room in your house (you'll need a long phone cable, though). A better solution for setting up multiple phones is to connect to the VoiceWing adapter a cordless base station that has multiple handsets.
Verizon VoiceWing's Web interface is straightforward and easy to use. Sign in, and you're presented with a useful first page that consists of a list of recent incoming, outgoing, and missed calls as well as voicemail messages. Click the My Account or My Phone buttons to add or adjust features. If you have chatty teenagers at home, you may want to keep an eye on your monthly minutes. Like other companies selling residential VoIP services, Verizon reserves the right to cut you off if it suspects you are using VoiceWing for business purposes and running up a huge number of minutes each month. Unlike other VoIP services, however, Verizon sets a limit: exceed 5,000 minutes in a month, and Verizon will investigate your phone behavior. That may seem like a generous allotment of minutes, and it is for most people, but 5,000 total is only 166 minutes a day--a total that any teenager can chew up easily.
Verizon set up a unique billing system for VoiceWing. Your flat monthly rate gets charged to your credit card, but in addition, the service sets up an Extra Services Account on sign-up. This account handles international long-distance calls and directory assistance charges, which your flat-rate monthly fee does not. Whenever your Extra Service Account falls below $2.50, Verizon charges your credit card between $15 and $100 (you choose the standard amount) so that you continue with a positive balance. Although it makes billing easier, we're wary of automatic charges. Be sure to monitor your monthly statements carefully, especially if you coexist with teenagers who have international acquaintances.If you want Verizon VoiceWing service, you won't have any trouble choosing a plan. There's one residential, unlimited-minutes plan, and that's that. You'll pay $34.95 a month, which is $15 more per month than the unlimited-minutes plans from BroadVoice, Lingo, and Packet8, and $10 more than Editors' Choice award-winning Vonage. Verizon DSL subscribers pay $5 less per month for the first year and are given the first month free, but that's still more than you'll pay with VoiceWing's competitors. If you are looking for a VoIP service for your business or just a low-cost plan that gives you 500 or so long-distance minutes per month, you won't find it here.
Though they still aren't worth the premium, Verizon VoiceWing's calling features are unquestionably useful. The service's call-forwarding feature lets you forward calls to another number automatically, when you're on the phone only, or after five rings. For important calls (It's a boy!), you can also set it so that incoming calls simultaneously ring your main phone and up to three other numbers. VoiceWing enhances the standard do-not-disturb mode by letting you list phone numbers from which you will accept calls; you can keep telemarketers at bay during dinner but let your daughter's cell phone through, for example. You can configure VoiceWing to work in conjunction with your Microsoft Outlook contact list, then select from those contacts in order to place or schedule calls. Other features include call waiting with caller ID, caller ID blocking, return calling (*69), repeat calling (*66), and three-way calling.
As with any VoIP service, two of our immediate concerns are local number portability and 911 emergency services. VoiceWing provides the former, assuming you're asking to switch a landline over to the service (you can't port cell phone numbers), with the usual caveat that if you use DSL for your broadband connection, you must retain a landline in order to maintain your DSL service. Cable subscribers, on the other hand, can dispense with landlines completely, transferring their local numbers as long as they contact Verizon at least 14 days prior to the desired transfer date.
Verizon VoiceWing, however, does not support emergency 911 calling. What it does instead is to demand you provide your physical address upon registration. (Vonage treats 911 the same way.) Once you register your address, calls to 911 will be directed to a local emergency service provider. The catch is that emergency personnel won't automatically have your address or phone number on the screen when you call. Families who frequently use babysitters may not feel comfortable with this arrangement, but this is as close as VoIP providers can get to 911 service at the current time.