|Voiceglo's adapter has clearly marked ports and an informative setup guide.|
When you sign up for the home plan or the business plan, Voiceglo ships you either a multimedia terminal adapter (MTA), which connects an existing phone to a broadband Internet connection, or a USB phone, which connects directly to your PC. For this review we tested the MTA, which arrived with a concise, informative setup guide that explained how to configure the device for DSL or cable Internet service. Setup was a snap, aided by the MTA's clearly marked ports: two telephone jacks, two Ethernet jacks (MTA-to-PC and MTA-to-WAN), and a power connector. Numerous status lights on the front panel let you know if your connections are OK. The Ethernet pass-through (MTA-to-PC) port lets you hook the MTA directly to your broadband modem and pass the connection through to your PC. The MTA can then optimize quality of service under high-load network conditions.
Once you've hooked up the MTA, Voiceglo configures itself automatically. Voiceglo's overall voice quality during calls to San Francisco (local), Alabama, Nevada, New York, and even Brazil and Denmark, was as good as any we've tried. Call latency--the lag between the time you speak and the time you are heard on the other end--was rarely evident and slight enough to ignore when we did notice it.
Voiceglo requires users to dial an area code even for local calls, but the same is true of most Internet phone services and even POTS in many parts of the country. You can work around this annoyance if your phone has a speed-dial feature, but it's still a bit of a pain.
Voiceglo offers two monthly service plans for home users: $19.99 for unlimited local and subscriber-to-subscriber calls with 3.9-cent-per-minute long distance (to the United States and Canada) and $29.99 for unlimited local calls and domestic long distance. Avoid the business plan. At $49.99, it costs $20 more per month than the unlimited home plan and doesn't offer any additional features. Opening an account also requires purchase of a $20 phone card that serves as a deposit for international calls--kind of a drag if all of your friends and family are domestically located. You'll also incur a hardware charge for the $39.99 USB phone or the $79.99 phone adapter.
Choose Voiceglo's softphone option, GloPhone, to avoid the hardware charges. Instead of using your own phone or Voiceglo's USB phone, you download an app that gives you a 14-digit phone number and an onscreen phone interface that you use with a headset or the speakers and the microphone on your PC. One GloPhone calling plan lets users call other Voiceglo subscribers for free; another provides unlimited local and long-distance calls to any number in the United States or Canada for $35.99 per month. We can't recommend anything other than the free softphone plan, unless you particularly relish being tied to your PC every time the phone rings.
Voiceglo's features are not as advanced as those offered by services such as Vonage or Broadvox, but you get most of the basics: voicemail, voicemail sent as e-mail attachments, call waiting, caller ID, and caller-ID blocking. You can also use one of Voice over IP's (VoIP's) coolest features: call forwarding. When you're out of the house, you can route calls to your cell phone or another number that's convenient for you. Missing from Voiceglo's list of features, however, is support for 911 calls, call return, conference calling, the ability to receive faxes as e-mail, and--most disappointing--a secondary virtual number. Many Internet telephony services provide a second number either free of charge (Broadvox) or for a few extra dollars per month (Vonage), allowing friends or relatives in that area to call you without paying long-distance rates.
It's also disappointing that you can't transfer your current number to Voiceglo's service, as you can with Vonage. You must choose a new number, even if Voiceglo offers service in your area code. By our count, Voiceglo offers 96 area codes in 24 states, though the company expects to cover 90 percent of the United States by midsummer.
Voiceglo's excellent online help includes a lengthy and well-organized FAQ, downloadable manuals, and a tutorial for the company's GloPhone softphone service. Toll-free telephone support is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Voiceglo also provides tech support via e-mail. We received a response to our late-day e-mail inquiry in less than two business hours.