Review by Lenagainster
Good "Clear as a bell"
- Location: Silver Spring,Montgomery,MD
- Cost: $32 per month
- Install: about 5 days
Bad "Cancelling customers who don't qualify for E-911"
Overall "Customer loyalty doesn't exist at ATT"
Ease of Installation:
Value for money:
Update 4/29/07 After reading about ATT cancelling service for existing customers who don't qualify for E-911, I feel obliged to rescind my recommendation for CallVantage. The website does not clearly state that "if you do not qualify for E-911, you cannot become a CallVantage customer". It discusses alternate 911 services and the problems that may be associated with these services and disavows any liability for use of alternate 911 services. For that reason, I downgraded my rating of the website. It is incomprehensible to me that ATT would give so many long time customers the boot for not having E-911. The customers are aware of the limitations and agree not to hold ATT liable for any problems that arise in contacting emergency services. That decision by ATT to shed subscribers rather than risk lawsuits shows that they are more interested in the bottom line than serving their customers. For that reason, I lowered my rating of reliability of the service. Having changed phone services several times recently, I know what a PIA it is in switching over and porting one's number. By imposing this burden on so many of their customers, CallVantage is certainly no great value. How many of these displaced customers will lose their number due to porting issues? I've downgraded my rating for value. Please consider seriously ATT's lack of loyalty to their customers before choosing CallVantage.
Update 2/4/07 The quality of AT&T's CallVantage service has been very good, but I was annoyed by the fact that I was limited to 20 blocked callers (even after paying an extra $2 per month for the service). Additionally, I had been reading a lot of reports about incompatibility with the CallVantage Telephone Adapter and the Actiontec router that is used when Verizon FiOS TV is installed. That started me looking at other VoIPs and I signed up with VoicePulse and was able to compare them side by side, which pointed out the minor shortcomings of CallVantage. VP seems to allow unlimited filtering, so I no longer had to keep a log of who I was blocking in order to delete older blocks to make room for newer ones. It seems that if one doesn't subscribe to CV's Call Filtering, then one cannot block incoming anonymous calls. CallVantage call logs do not show the duration of a call. While this may be unimportant with unlimited local and long distance service, I find myself wishing the information was there. With the opportunity to compare websites, I realized that logging in to my account on CallVantage's website was slow; I had to enter my passcode every time, and it took several annoying seconds for my account to show up. (My new VP online access is fast.) So while not degrading my rating for CallVantage due to these minor issues, I have found something better and have switched. (The CV TA/Actiontec router issue is not a problem for me since I don't intend to install Verizon TV.)
I initially was looking at the packages with unlimited local calling and per minute long distance. Wasn't interested in a plan with limited minutes of local calling. CallVantage seemed to fit my needs best at $20 per month plus $2 for call filtering, total monthly bill with taxes about $27. The customer reviews for voice quality with CallVantage were very good (and that proved to be true for me).
When I tried to 'port' my number from a local CLEC online, the application was denied, and a CS rep explained that AT&T does not have a porting agreement with that phone company. He suggested I port my number to Verizon, then to AT&T. I wanted to try out the service before committing my home number of 40 years to AT&T. So I signed up with another local number. Worked great from the get-go. As soon as the Telephone Adapter (TA) arrived, I plugged it in to the FIOS wireless router and after a brief automated setup, I could use the phone. (Some configurations suggest putting the TA between the router and modem so that the TA can channel enough of the bandwidth to provide high voice quality. But with that configuration, I could not access the Internet with my computer. At 5M/2M with FIOS, there was plenty of bandwidth when the TA was plugged in to the router. The TA typically needs 90K of bandwidth to operate.)
Once my number was ported over to a Verizon landline, and then to AT&T, the copper line was dead and I could rewire the house, so I can use the house wiring for multiple phones. Before my service was shut off, I measured the voltage and polarity of the incoming landline and wrote it on the wall. As the instructions indicated, I disconnected the incoming wires (I have an old house, old installation, and the wires are easily accessible). I unplugged every phone and answering machine in the house. Plugged a telephone wire into the back of the TA and into the nearby telephone jack. Measured the voltage where all the lines come together and found that the POLARITY WAS REVERSED!!! The instructions say nothing about checking the polarity, or reversing leads on the jack that the TA plugs in to. I tediously reversed the red and green wires on the back of the jack that I was using for the TA, and rechecked the voltage and polarity at the junction of all the phone wires. Polarity correct. Plugged one phone in at a time, tested for a dial tone, and every one worked.
It now appears that my VOIP phone is set up exactly as the landline was with a few differences. No need to dial 1. An occasional requirement to verify that I haven't moved the TA when the power goes out. A lot lower bill than even the most basic landline provides. And a ton of useful features that would cost an arm and a leg if purchased through Verizon's smorgasbord.
For over two months, we have been using VOIP and have had none of the problems that I read about from other users. The voice quality is as good or better than a landline. We have had no problems making or receiving calls. No one has called us and said they tried our number and couldn't get through. There is hardly any difference between using the VOIP phone and a landline Obviously, the router must be kept on. The modem is always on and has a Verizon installed battery backup system, good for about ten hours without power.
We lost power in a thunderstorm a few weeks ago for 23 hours. Calls were automatically forwarded to my cellphone. I shut down the battery backup for the router and computer, since our cordless phones didn't work anyway without power. The battery backup for the modem died after 10 hours. When power was restored, everything came back on normally with no resetting required.
The only "issue" I had with the service is that in order to comply with the requirements of locating a VOIP phone for 911 is that every time the telephone adapter (TA) loses power, it notifies AT&T, and before the first call can be made after a power loss, I must endure an automated announcement to verify that I have not moved the TA. Unfortunately, the TA sends a power loss signal even if the power loss duration is less than a second. It would have been a more intelligent design if the power loss signal only happened when power was out for over a minute. Who could move and install the TA to a new location in under a minute? In an attempt to reduce the frequency of the power loss glitches, I purchased a small battery backup unit for just the TA, which seems to have fixed the problem, as we have not had the automated message since the backup was installed.
Currently, there is a problem with the time that AT&T sends with the Caller ID information on an incoming call. In my case, I must add three hours to the indicated time. The call log on my account online shows the correct time of incoming and outgoing calls. Speed dialing through the AT&T system is impractical. To dial the number in speed dial location 9, for example, one must dial ATT9# That's FIVE keystrokes to dial a ten digit number. We use the speed dial provided on our cordless phones; quite a bit easier. AT&T provides speed dialing for only 9 phone numbers. Our cordless phones provide for 20.
My experience with CallVantage so far has been very satisfying, and I have no regrets about giving up an expensive, spartan landline in favor of an inexpensive, feature packed broadband phone system. I was excited to learn that AT&T dropped the price of their unlimited local and long distance calling plan from $29.99 to $24.99. I signed up immediately. Even if we don't make enough calls every month to justify paying an extra $5 (125 minutes of LD), the idea of making any call any time any where without concern for the cost is well worth the fee.
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updated 7.5 years ago